The Focus Machine

When I think about having kids one day, I get scared. We get no offline time anymore. We’re always connected. Adults, seniors, children. Never a minute offline.

When I was a kid, I spent hours at our offline computer. Sometimes, my dad would take me to his office, where I could go online. But only for a while. Then back to offline reality.

The Focus Machine

I propose an abstract solution to the problem.

Instead of computers, kids will only be allowed to use the Focus Machine. It will be a special computer that’s permanently disconnected from the Internet. It will be connected to reference libraries they might need for the work they’re doing. It will contain Stack Overflow, Wikipedia, things like that. There will be no Reddit or Facebook or Twitter.

They will still be able to go online, but under parents’ supervision and for limited time. Going online must be difficult. Like when I had to get my dad to take me to the office. Or like when we had dial-up lines, and they were expensive, and the discount rate kicked in only at 7PM.

Try it yourself

You can try it too. You will need two computers. One will be the Focus Machine, the other your regular computer.

Use SelfControl to setup your Focus Machine. Block all websites you visit randomly. Set the block time for 1 week or so. Block e-mail on it. You have to rewire your brain so it understands this machine is only for work.

The other computer is for Internet. If you can, keep it in another room. So now you have 2 machines and 2 rooms. If you want to go online, you have go to the online room to use your online machine.

That’s it. It’s just an abstract idea, so I don’t know how it would go in practice. If you’ve tried experiment like this, let me know in comments!

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