5 reasons why I wrote ON/OFF.

Sidney Vollmer
Apr 11, 2017 · 3 min read

Last week, ON/OFF: searching for balance in digital times was published by Dutch publishers Nijgh & Van Ditmar.

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design by Fabian Sapthu & Boris Rijksen

We launched the book at The School of Life, a nice location for a book subtitled ‘searching for balance in digital times.’

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ON OFF — Sidney Vollmer

Here’s 5 reasons why I wrote it.

1.There is a widening chasm between how I used to interact with digital technology when I was a kid, and how I use it these days.

As aware as I am of epochalism, this decade feels like a pivotal one for how we develop as humans, and as societies, vis-a-vis digital technology.
I’m more a product now than I ever was a user. There are more addictions to wrestle with, less autonomy, less reverence for attention specifically and humanity in general, within the digital realm.

Oversight on technological developments is more needed than ever, yet lacking, under-equipped and rigid.

This feels like a topic in need of exploration — especially since in Dutch literature, there is relatively little focus on it.

2. A holistic approach in writing about digital technology was hard to find.

Often, authors focus on one side of the spectrum and write about technology (i.e. games, smartphones) or our interactions with it (the addictive nature, our children, utopianism, AI) I wanted to blend that all into one publication because I strongly feel some emancipation and renewed insight comes from seeing the holistic, all-encompassing interactions we have.

3. I wanted to write contemporary history that has some legs in a rapidly accelerating future.

Since developments go extremely fast, we tend to forego on looking around at our lives and write down what we see. Even as I may fail in the process, an honest attempt could still be useful down the line. A time capsule of sorts.

4. We need more accessible writing about what makes humans tick in an increasingly digital society.

As we try and interact with these fast developing digital technologies, democratic societies are well served by discussing what makes us human, and what makes democracy tick. As a building block for these discussions, I’m introducing 24 principles to protect and define rights and freedoms in digital times, for now in Dutch:

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24 principles for new digital rights in the 21st century

5. I like to learn

I think I exist to make things and to learn things. Writing this, meant learning a lot. The evolution of digital technology gives us so much about humanity to reflect upon. Some of it fantastic. Some not so much. There’s emancipation in knowing more about both. And I’m afraid to admit, I think we’re nowhere near completing the puzzles at hand.

If you want a personal, honest exploration on these matters, I’m tempted to say: buy it.

book photo of sidney vollmer on off
book photo of sidney vollmer on off
sidney vollmer — on/off photo by Boris Rijksen

More info / an interview? Send a message to Greta Le Blansch: g.leblansch@singeluitgeverijen.nl.

English pitch, review copy?
Mail publiciteit@nijghenvanditmar.nl

Lecture or key note? Mail my agent Lolies van Grunsven: lolies@vangrunsvencm.com

I’m a freelance writer and copywriter. I published two books and a bookapp, launched a podcast show called Digitalisme, co-introduced the Faraday Cage Block against smartphone addiction and started the initiative 2BelMinutenStilte, getting 400,000 people to switch off their phones during National Commemoration.

If you like what I write, consider making a small bitcoin donation to: 1GL5Z5ZK1bLWF7pnjjmYh9fhkJzcdKX8jf

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