indiantinker's blog

Internet-less at home



This post describes my year-long experiment of living without an active, always-on, and hence, ambient internet in my house in Madrid.

Why and How

In the past few years, I have been always surrounded by ambient connectivity. In the entire campus at IIT- Bombay, in my house in Madrid, and everywhere I sit down. This internet connectivity is great. I can look up things, I can 'consume' media, and entertain myself. However, it robs me of those moments of reflection and staying still.

One fine month, I started logging my internet data and found that useful internet was just 24% of my consumption. It included things like. :

The remaining internet data was mostly passive browsing and majorly streaming websites like Youtube. This was a pretty interesting finding. I was driving myself towards information obesity. So, this time when I moved, I decided not to have an always ON internet connection. I considered it a month-long experiment, that has continued for a year now. That means, no home assistance devices, no IoT devices, and no sitting on the phone/laptop and doing nothing. Hence, I do not have an internet connection at home. Compulsory disclaimer, I do have my phone with a 10GB limit and a backup line with a 4G router, if we have an outbreak again and are confined. Just in case.


Based on a year-long of observations, here are the key points :

  1. The first three months were quite a learning. I made a diary of moments when I needed the internet. They were usually not very urgent but seemed urgent. It is just the nature of the medium in which this information is presented that makes us think it is urgent. I wish, I knew more about media studies, but somehow since I get information immediately on the internet, I feel, I should reply immediately too. But, in reality, many things can wait. That e-mail, that comment, that post, that long message... they all.. can.. wait. I kind of miss Julian's Slow Messenger here.

I learned that most things on the internet are usually less urgent than they seem to be.

  1. I have started reading, writing, and painting more. Not like crazy much but a bit more than before as the time I spent getting anxious about what to watch is spent doing other things.

  2. A major part of my information consumption is offline first. I download videos, books, and use apps like Instapaper to read on my laptop when home.

  3. I have initiated a personal-brain/second-brain/digital garden or whatever word is trending now. I use an app called Logseq to do so. It is offline first and stores a copy in iCloud/Dropbox. When I have internet, it syncs the 'knowledge-graph" so I can access it from my phone.

  4. I tend to complete tasks that I started more often. I get less distracted during the confusing middle part. I finish that movie, that book, and this podcast rather than just jumping between things and not savoring anything.

  5. I spend more time outside my house on weekends. Engaging with the city, and trying new things, serendipitously. But it is mostly hiking.

  6. The lack of internet has made my small house, a space for reflection, a closed space, a place where I gather ideas and input, rather than continuously scatter and wander.

In my view, it does take a few months to get used to it. But, it is a nice thing especially if you do not work from home. If you do, you could have 'happy-hours' where you physically turn off the internet modem. Some people I tell this, think I am 'friki' or 'strange'. It makes me smile.

#internet #experiment