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Free Culture Activist Begins One Year 'Net Fast'

Media Release: Free Culture Activist Begins One Year 'Net Fast'
Daniel Strypey Bruce
02 May, 2014

For immediate release:

As of 5pm, on May 2, 2014, free culture activist Daniel Strypey Bruce will cease transmission over all internet-based communications channels for a year . "I was planning to start on Jan 1", wrote Daniel in his farewell blog post 'See You In Person' [1], "but as a result of suddenly and unexpectedly moving house just before summer solstice, I decided to hold off until the end of April. Now the time has come, and today will be the last time I will login or use the internet in any way for a whole year. No texting either, it's too much like email, and I'd only overcompensate and drive people crazy."

After more than fifteen years as an internet evangelist, and nearly a decade of owning computers and having regular access to broadband, Daniel says, "I have only vague memories of how the analogue half lives. I want to know what life is like in 2014 for those who can't afford regular net access, or a reliable computer, or choose for whatever reason not to use them. I want to challenge my own techno-utopian assumptions that everyone should want to go digital, and that it can make the world a better place. I want to take some time to reflect on everything this whole digital revolution thing seemed to promise in the late 90s, and how many of the idealist dreams we had have been realized, or even come close."

Even before officially starting the net fast Daniel has already experienced the confused, awkward pauses when he tells people "I don't use the internet", or "I don't use email". "Already I've had a cell phone company tell me I must have an email address, since they don't send out paper bills. Work and Income have handed me a list of job search websites, and already I'm anticipting some pointed questions when they find out I'm not using the net, even though there's no law that says people have to use the internet."

Work has already begun on a book about the 'net fast' experiment, and the deeper social issues it brings to light, which Daniel intends to release under a CreativeCommons license. He goes on to explain "the working title of the book, 'Email Ate My Life', expresses my frustration with the amount of time I was spending reading and writing email and web pages in the last year or two, and the way it left me too busy or too tired to spend time with people in person. This touches on another major theme I want to explore in the book, which is my theory that the uneven pricing of different kinds of telecommunications services has tended to push us towards anti-social communication habits. I'm not saying anyone planned it this way, but these perverse incentives are bound to be affecting the depth and quality of our relationships, our social life, and maybe even corrosive to a democratic culture."

Daniel is optimistic that the net fast will be a learning experience, "My teenage daughter is a digital native. She started learning to use a mouse as a toddler, and the internet is as natural to her as the landline phone was to me when I was growing up. Chances are slim that my net fast will be permanent. I hope to come back in a year's time with a much clearer idea of what the net is really good for, and what things are better done elseways."


Daniel Strypey Bruce is a writer, performer, activist, GNU/Linux user, permaculturist, Occupier, facilitator, and community developer based in Ōtepoti/ Dunedin. A student of Te Reo Māori and tikanga Māori, he acknowledges the mana whenua of hapū and iwi in Aotearoa. An early advocate of online activism, he was a founder of Aotearoa.Indymedia.org, and CreativeCommons.org.nz, and has been blogging on free culture in all its form at Disintermedia.net.nz for over 5 years. Over the last two years he has served as Co-Director of Circulation Festival, a Council member for Permaculture in NZ, and Communications Offer for the Pirate Party of NZ, for whom he is now Orientation Officer. Full bio here: http://www.disintermedia.net.nz/strype

[1] http://www.coactivate.org/projects/disintermedia/blog/2014/05/01/email-ate-my-life-see-you-in-person/

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