Alright, there's probably one thing that unites everyone with a computer: Our love-hate-relationship with the internet.
Memes are better than ever. The internet usefully mediates so much of our lives. There's more doom in our feeds than ever before. More data is being collected by internet giants. Algorithms are playing the game of human attention better than us.
Now, how are going to find some god-damn peace of mind while hooked up to a supercomputer that processes all the worlds information and wants all of our attention?
We're not asking for much. What if, instead of surveillance we could have privacy? Instead of distraction we could have focus? Instead of stress and anxiety, we could have calm and centeredness?
As part of our project of becoming more happy, intelligent, and powerful cyborgs in times of exponential distraction, we'll need a strategy for how to use our browser — so that we can use the internet, instead of the internet using us.
A better browser
The browser is our window into the internet. Right now, it's pretty passive. We're imagining a future where our browsers are proactively designed to help us be calm, focused, and organized. Which is why we're excited to see what The Browser Company and others are working on.
In the meantime, there are some things you can do today, to change your relationship to the internet. Let's dive in:
Brave: Secure, Fast, Private
Brave is built on Chromium, so it's as fast as Chrome, and gets all the add-ons. But, magically, by blocking all kinds of trackers and ads, they made it even faster.
It looks and feels a lot like Chrome, and you can import your bookmarks and passwords, so switching costs are quite low.
Most importantly though, Brave is built around privacy. Besides blocking trackers by default, it comes with a whole stack of privacy and security features. For example, there's a very private Private Mode that comes with built-in Duck Duck Go search and Tor connectivity.
Speaking of Search...
DuckDuckGo is the number one choice when it comes to private search.
Ecosia is also "privacy-friendly", and they plant trees with the profits from your searches, which is pretty great.
After trying both many times, I personally always come back to Google, because I value the highly relevant search results and thus the speed at which I can find what I'm looking for.
Neeva is making a bet on highly personalized and private search, but they haven't launched yet.
I'm using ExpressVPN to add another layer of privacy and security between me and the internet. Besides making it harder to track you, it also gives you access to all kinds of content that might not be available in your region.
You need to get an ad blocker.
Attention, Distraction, Focus
Between checking Twitter, Reddit, and our mails, we're also trying to get some work done. So here are some tools for protecting your attention and staying focused.
Intention adds a layer of mindfulness to distracting websites. Sometimes, after my hands, mindlessly,
hit cmd + t
type tw... / f... / y...
and I find myself on Twitter / Facebook / Youtube, Intention shows me this Window. Simply having a big "Close Tab" call to action is tremendously helpful, because it makes it easy for the mind to return to what I was previously working on.
Is has a bunch of other features like streaks and custom time budgets. It's well-designed and built for privacy. 10/10 can recommend.
🐇🕳 Watch out for Rabbit Holes
Out of all the shiny things on the internet, one used to be better at seducing me than all others: YouTube.
You've probably experienced that enticing, engaging, anxiety inducing rush of compulsively clicking the next recommended video.
Rush no more: Rabbit Hole, another Chrome/Brave extension removes all these skillfully distracting part of YouTube. No recommendations on the home page, no side bar, no autoplay.
Just a search bar and a video player. YouTube at it's best.
Late at night 👀
While far from perfect, Night Eye is the best dark mode for the internet I'm aware of.
Coming soon: 5 ways to protect your eyes (and get better sleep).
I need to read that article NOWWWW!!
Whenever researching something or simply stumbling across an article, there is this strong urge to read it right on the spot.
"What focus means is saying no to something that with every bone in your body think is a phenomenal idea, and you wake up thinking about it, but you end up saying no to it because you're focusing on something else." Jony Ive, on what he learnt from Steve Jobs about focus
Even though there's this really strong urge to read it now... Don't :)
Instead, save it to Pocket and read it in the evening, or on Saturdays. It makes a big difference to see all these articles in the context of your reading list. This allows you to choose and prioritize consciously.
Or, even better, get your favorite blogs, newsletters, the most relevant tweets from your network, ... sent to you in a personal digest via Mailbrew.
We will dive a lot deeper on cultivating an healthy information diet in one of our upcoming posts. Make sure to subscribe to our newsletter to be notified 💌👇