I'm on a Twitter break since January. Suddenly, I had a lot of free time! I'm afraid I filled much of it with an almost immobilising sense of dread and panic which kept me from doing a lot of things I would like to do.
I also spend a lot of time reading news, something I almost always mostly regret but can't seem to stop doing. I read some carefully curated blogs and listen to a few podcasts (Risky Business is amazing!). On the plus side, I have also gone back to reading something like two books every week, both fact and fiction.
When reading news on web sites I find I re-visit the site again and again during the day and lose track of what I have read. It's not very rewarding to reload web pages several times a day in the hope of getting a temporary news fix.
I had an idea for a while that I should go cold turkey and not follow any news media at all, but that turned out to be very hard most of the time. If someone has a traning program or something to wane you off from news feeds, let me know.
Instead, I'm trying to handle reading news by using the Feeder
my phone and, of course, the Swiss army chainsaw known as
Gnus in Emacs on the laptop for some feeds. I use
nnrss backend and the wonderful Gwene
RSS to NNTP gateway. Of course, I use Gwene's sister server
Gmane for reading quite a few mailing lists as if
they were good old Usenet.
Even mainstream Swedish newspapers such as Dagens Nyheter and Sydsvenskan and many others still expose RSS feeds! Even if they're not full text feeds it helps a lot in keeping track of what you have read. You can read the lead and decide if you want to read the article proper by following the link to their web site. Then it's automatically marked as read and you don't have to revisit their web sites all the time. Feeder does it for you.
I also use the feed from Colin Percival's Hacker News Daily and the wonderfully bitter Webshit weekly so I don't have to do HN myself. Lobste.rs also still has an RSS feed. Two, even: one for the articles and for the comments.
As usual, if you want to keep your SAN points, avoid the comments on both sites even if they're probably better than most sites with comment threads. Youtube comes to mind... Use Hide Youtube Comments!
Hm... A HN Daily but for my Twitter feed? The 10(?) most retweeted and/or favourited tweets of the day? Sounds like a nice hack!
Speaking of saving SAN, I totally avoid mainstream computer news such as IDG and friends, altough, yes, even IDG has RSS! OK, I do follow VICE Motherboard but they have full text RSS! And, of course, Motherboard has Lorenzo Franceschi-Bicchierai.
For books, I keep an Org mode file with headings for “Read” and “To read”. I'm afraid I still haven't taken full inventory of the “To read” list. Books are stacked in several pillars all over my living room, waiting either to be read or to be sorted and inserted into our bookshelves. Oh, and we need at least two new bookshelves to add to our existing twelve.
Some highlights of what I've read since starting my Twitter break:
Derek Landy's restart of the Skulduggery Pleasant/Valkyrie Kain series: Resurrection and Midnight.
Niklas Natt och dag's 1793, which has a protagonist called Jean Michael Cardell which I thought was quite funny, although the actual story is very far from being funny. Really hair raising history-noir thriller.
Rutger Bregman's Utopia for realists, a book about universal basic income, a 15-hour workweek and open borders. He's not much of a leftie and even mentions von Hayek and von Mises as his idols, but that goes to show that basic income is not a left-right thing. He both rants and generalizes, especially when introducing something, but all in all an inspiring read.
China Miéville's wonderful October, his non-fiction about the Russian revolution. I had only read his surreal fantasy fiction before. This was something else but still with the same magnificent storytelling. Too little mentions of Anarchists, though, but I guess I'll have to go to other sources than a Trotskyite like China for that.
Tobias Berglund & Niclas Sennerteg: Finska inbördeskriget (The Finnish civil war), a Swedish book about the Finnish civil war 1918, something that is more or less forgotten in Sweden, despite many Swedish volunteers, but still a sore point among some Finnish acquaintances. An incredibly well-researched and important book, not least because of all the victims of the White's camps after the war needs to more well known and because by responding to the Finnish Social democrats radical turn the Swedish Social democratic party found its way.
Jan-Olof Grahn Om svensk signalspaning: andra världskriget, a book about Swedish signals intelligence during WWII including, of course, the breaking of the Siemens and Halske T52 (the machine known as Sturgeon at Bletchley Park) by Arne Beurling. Very well researched and not as anecdotal as Beckman's classic Svenska kryptobedrifter. An interesting note is that the FRA's listening station in a villa in Malmö still stands.
Re-read both Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas and some of the Transmetropolitan albums. I am, again, surprised how well Warren Ellis and Darek Robertson foretold our current world, at least politically.