I haven’t logged into Facebook since the end of 2018, and for Lent this year I decided to remove access to Twitter and Instagram as well. It was my default way to fill every spare minute of the day — the thought of not doing anything filled me with dread, so those gaps were filled with mindless scrolling through opinions and overly positive photographs.

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Photo by Roman Kraft on Unsplash

I thought banning social media would help improve my own opinions. …

What will happen to society, politics and daily life when non-conscious but highly intelligent algorithms know us better than we know ourselves?

This is how Yuval Noah Harari ends his book, Homo Deus. It’s a fascinating book that really sets the scene of how we arrived at the twenty-first century, and what the coming century may look like. A closing focus of the book is the concept of Dataism, where data and information flow is of paramount importance.

In many ways we’re already there. To the world at large, the data that I produce is likely more valuable than myself as a whole. My heart rate data sent to a researcher in Australia has more potential than my personal interactions while ordering coffee, and the collection of likes and friend requests on my [now deleted] Facebook profile tell corporations more about my lifestyle and habits than I could remember. …

I’m now into my third week as a Project Manager. Prior to this I was a software consultant and team lead, a role which encompassed a lot of the skills and requirements of a project manager without exclusively being one. As a result, I’ve gained the core skills that allowed me to take this position without really being aware of them, or taking the time to understand them. So much of this job appears to be what I would’ve historically referred to as “soft skills” — the kind you can’t pick up from reading a book or watching a YouTube video. …

A few weeks ago I removed all social media apps from my phone. Why? As an experiment more than anything else. I wouldn’t say I’m addicted to social media, but it had become my default task. Waiting for a meeting to start? Check Twitter. Few minutes until the train arrives? Good chance to catch up with Instagram. Should really be asleep but eh, did I honestly need this extra hour (spoiler: yes, yes I did)? Scroll through Facebook.

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Photo by ROBIN WORRALL on Unsplash

I had noticed how much time I was spending, but it only really became obvious after I started using the iOS 12 beta and I could see the data that Screen Time was collecting. I was spending several hours on my phone every single day. Those occasional five minutes every so often were really adding up into a meaningful chunk of time. Enough time to get through a book in a week, go for longer walks or just do absolutely nothing but think. …

A few months ago I switched my default search engine from Google to DuckDuckGo and I haven’t looked back since. I wouldn’t necessarily say it’s superior but it is fantastic, fast and simple, and that’s more than enough for me.

I should start by saying I’m not paranoid about security. Google already knows too much about me, and changing my search engine won’t do anything to change that. I still rely on Google Maps, Gmail and Google Photos and have no reason to give them any less data than I already do. This isn’t about increasing privacy. This is about increasing choice.

I’m a software developer that loves technology but also values time away from it too. Every day I fight to find the perfect balance between being online and offline.

iOS 12 (currently in development beta at the time of writing) introduces Screen Time. The ability for users to see exactly how often they’re using their devices, and what they’re doing on them. When I downloaded iOS 12, this was the feature I was most looking forward to using.

As with all cases of monitoring and metrics, things are always different than what you estimate. You think you went all morning without checking Twitter, and your mid-morning break to catch-up with Facebook didn’t go over 10-minutes? …

I’ve used both iPhone and Android devices in the past, but I’m currently quite heavily integrated into the Apple ecosystem. That being said, Digital Wellbeing, announced by Google today is the first time I’ve been excited about the Apple vs. Google arguments for quite some time.

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Photo by Jamie Street on Unsplash

Put simply, Digital Wellbeing is a collection of tools and features designed to put the user back in control and make technology work for them, rather than us being a slave to notifications and updates. I’m really conscious about the effect that our devices have on our mental wellbeing and relationships. I have the bare minimum notifications — with even fewer making it through to my watch — and almost no none-functional apps. But I am still badly addicted to social media (mostly Twitter), and will often pull-to-refresh with only minutes in between. Digital Wellbeing is Google’s attempt to make you aware of the time you’re spending, and provide tools to let you decide if that’s okay. They’re even looking to introduce features including your phone automatically going into do not disturb mode when you place it screen down. …

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View from the boundary as we were chasing a low total for our first win of the season

Today marked my return to competitive cricket — my first season in 10 years. I’d spent a fair amount of time in the nets over Winter trying to improve my batting, so while I felt comfortable enough, I hadn’t been able to get any match experience which meant I was a little unsure as to what to expect when it came to playing with the 10 others.

There was no need to be unsure though. The team spirit was incredible, and brought back everything I loved about playing cricket and team sports in general. The team were behind every single ball bowled and were alert and ready to field throughout. Our batting wasn’t fantastic — yours truly contributing 2 in a 10-run partnership — but it matched the match scenario and conditions on a pitch proving difficult to score on. In the end, it came down to the final wicket and we had done enough for it to be trusted upon our number 11 batsman to hit the winning runs, just as he hoped he would as we chatted between innings. …

Seems the most accurate way to describe British politics at the moment, especially after yesterday’s local elections. No one did particularly badly, but no one did particularly well, either. As we thought, the UKIP vote disappeared almost entirely (only 3 councillors after 149/150 declarations), but it didn’t necessarily go to any one party. The Lib Dems have enjoyed somewhat of a revival as well, despite their party taking a step back earlier this year, re-electing Cable to the leadership.

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Photo by Michael D Beckwith on Unsplash

On balance, I think you’d have to give this as a Conservative victory. Labour didn’t make the inroads they were expecting and while neither party is particularly inspiring at the moment, a strong Labour message could’ve cleaned up here. Yes, Corbyn caught up to May during the general election, but since then his appeal has tailed off somewhat. He hasn’t taken the opportunities (and sometimes open goals!) given to him, or appeared like a potential Prime Minister during times of crisis. Elections such as yesterday’s continue to suggest the current Labour party aren’t a party of decisive leadership, even if people aren’t exactly in love with the alternative. …

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Photo by Elliott Stallion on Unsplash

I absolutely love polling days. Despite always having lived in relatively safe seats, the feeling of having a vote is incredible. Seeing everyone else doing the same small task, while candidates make their final arguments before awaiting their fate for the next few years.

There’s no election taking place in my local area this year, but it’s still great to follow along. Just over 4,000 seats are up for grabs and as is often the case, the first election since the last General Election will reveal a lot about the current state of play.

Will Labour fight to win back previously held seats in the north of England, or have they doubled their efforts on turning the capital a darker shade of red? Have the Conservatives proved enough to be kept in place, or will the sitting party be punished as so often happens? Will UKIP hold any seats by this time tomorrow, and if not which party will have benefited the most? …


Ed Parry

Product Manager at Prodigi UK. All things software, politics, design and sports. Holds an insatiable appetite for knowledge and learning.

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