Ep. 237. Is It Time To Rethink The Internet?

Transcription for the video titled "Ep. 237. Is It Time To Rethink The Internet?".


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Cal's intro (00:00)

What would happen if there was a radical reimagio of the internet? Would that be good or bad? That's the deep question I want to explore in today's episode. Should we consider a radically reimagined internet? I'm Cal Newport and this is Deep Questions. The show about living and working deeply in an increasingly distracted world. I'm here in my deep work HQ, joined as always by my producer Jesse. You know, Jesse, one thing that goes on in this town in DC that's rarely relevant to our show is the Supreme Court is obviously based here. The week that we're recording this, which is the week before it comes out, is actually one of the rare instances where the dealings of the Supreme Court are relevant to the type of things we talk about. I figure I can be a sophisticated courtroom court watcher journalist today and talk a little bit about this case. It's an important case because it, in theory, could reshape the internet. I don't know if that's actually going to happen, but they're hearing a case that, in theory, could reshape the internet. I wanted to talk about it briefly because I think it gets to some deeper ideas about the internet that I would like to discuss. I want to load up here on the screen for those who are watching at youtube.com/Cal NewportMedia. This is episode 237. You'll see this on the screen, but for those who are listening, I'll narrate. This is articles from The Times. This is Adam Lipdick's coverage of this course case. He did a good job at this. Let me talk briefly about what's going on. I'm polling from this New York Times summary to talk about what's going on in this case. The case in question argued in the Supreme Court last week was brought by the family of Nohemi Gonzalez, a 23-year-old college student who was killed in a restaurant in Paris during the terrorist attacks in November 2015. A lawyer for the family argued that YouTube, which is a subsidiary of Google, bore responsibility because it had used algorithms to push Islamic State videos to interested viewers using information that the company had collected about them. This case is Gonzalez V. Google. It's the Gonzalez family suing Google because Google owns YouTube. They're saying YouTube is partially responsible for our son's death. Now, the core legal issue at stake here is found that I'm scrolling to find the exact text here. It's a small section, section 230, actually it's going to be very specific, section 230C1 of the 1996 Communications Decency Act. This section 230, so it's a part of U.S. law, has the following sentence in it. "No provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another content provider." So as this New York Times article clarifies what this means is, it has enabled the rise of social networks like Facebook and Twitter by ensuring that the sites did not assume legal liability for every post. So the section 230 was put into law in the 90s. It was actually spurred by a lawsuit that was raised, I believe, against the early internet service provider Prodigy about something defamatory that was posted on a Prodigy bulletin board. And this lawsuit back in the 90s argued, you can't just say you're a passive host of information because you do moderate comments. You do take some comments down, so the fact that you didn't take this comment down meant U Prodigy are responsible for this information and we are going to sue you. And in response to that, we get the section 230 that says, "No, no, no, it's not the internet service provider's fault." Even if they are moderating the content, even if they are trying to get rid of some things, they still won't be held responsible for what remains. Many court cases subsequent to the passing of the law containing section 230 reinforce this idea that section 230 gives immunity from liability for internet service providers. So at the core of this case is the Gonzalez family lawyers is arguing that they should be able to pierce the section 230 protection because new services like YouTube, when I say new, I mean new as compared to Prodigy, as compared to 1996 internet, YouTube, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, these services aren't just a repository of information like a bulletin board that's perhaps moderated. They are using algorithms to curate information, to learn about their users and to recommend information to those users. And so the Gonzalez family is arguing, once you are algorithmically curating data, the section 230 protection no longer holds. You're not a bulletin board, you are an entertainment company, you're making decisions about what you're showing people. There should be some liability for that. So that's the issue at stake. Is anything going to happen from this case? The consensus seems to be, no. Most of the coverage I've read of this case of the court watchers who studied the back and forth discussion, the hours of back and forth conversation between the Supreme Court judge and the court. The consensus seems to be the judges are not going to make a major change to the interpretation of section 230. I'll give you a quote right here. Elena Kagan said, you know these are not like the nine greatest experts on the internet. I just agree with that. When I think of internet high tech experts, you know who I think about? Clarence Thomas. Imagine him with like seven or eight computer screens up as he has code compiling over here and a open GL virtual reality environment that he's building over there, fiercely typing in them with a ergonomic keyboard. No, so they do recognize there are no internet experts. Brett Kavanaugh said, you know, if we change the interpretation here, this would really crash the digital economy. So like the really wary of the impact, even a minor change to the interpretation would have. He noted that probably making changes to 230 is a job. Congress, they passed the original law. They should pass clarifying laws, right? So the court is not going to make a major change to 230. But it got me thinking. What if they did? It's an interesting daydream. What if the court came back and significantly reduced 230 protection of companies that algorithmically curate or recommend information? In other words, what would happen if there was a radical reimagined? Would that be good or bad? That's a deep question I want to explore in today's episode. Should we consider a radically reimagined internet? So like we always do, we're going to tackle this in three segments. Segment one, let's go a little bit deeper.

Discussion On Radically Reimagined Internet

Today’s Deep Question - Should we consider a radically reimagined internet? (07:28)

We'll go a little bit deeper on this question of what would it be like if we radically changed the section 230 and therefore radically changed the internet. How would it be better? How would it be worse? Then we'll do some questions. Five questions from you, the listeners that are relevant to this topic. I'm going to be a little broad there in what I count as relevant to this topic. So the five questions will all orbit roughly around rethinking our relationship to technology such as the internet. So we'll have some hardcore new visions of internet questions, but also some more personal. How do I personally change my relationship to internet and a few in between? Then the third segment of the show, as usual, will shift gears and do something like that. As usual, we'll shift gears and do something interesting. All right, so let's deep dive into this a little bit. What would happen if we radically changed section 230? We can start with existing visions. So people who are advocating for changes to section 230, we can start with what their vision is for how the internet would change and then we'll go forward to the vision I have in mind. Here's the thing about section 230. At the moment, it has a opponent. So people who want to see it changed on both the American political right and the American political left. I don't know how the social media companies have managed to do this time and again, but time and again, they have managed to alienate all sides of the political spectrum. It really is a case study and public relations done terribly wrong. So there's already a clamoring for changes to 230 from both the right and the left. So the American political right, which I think was first the really start to question section 230, what they are looking for is accountability on moderation. So their concern is you can't just take me off of your platform, kick me off Twitter, remove or demonetize my videos on YouTube without being held responsible for why. The reason is simply we don't like your politics or these particular questions are bad for a particular, let's say, progressive policy that we want to promote, then you should be held accountable, your major platform. So the right really comes at it from you can't just take stuff off the internet for no good reason. You can be held liable for why you're doing that and it can't be discriminating on political beliefs or something like this. So this is the right approach to section 230. They think it's giving too much cover for these companies to do whatever they want. Interestingly, there's a new case coming to the Supreme Court later this session that is getting specifically at a first amendment attack, a first amendment argument about whether or not services can remove individuals based on things like political beliefs. The American political left came to disliking section 230 a little bit more recently and they want the opposite. They want to reduce 230 protections so that companies can be held more responsible for what they allow to be on their services. So they want to make sure that if you publish as a Facebook or Twitter something that is really damaging, that you can be held liable. So they want to actually be able to essentially punish interactive services for what is on their platform. The right wants to be able to punish or hold accountable interactive services for what they take off the platform. They're coming at 230 from two different angles. Here's my take. Neither of these two visions of what the internet could be like with 230 revisions we could call them are nearly radical enough. So if you look at the commentary from the right and left, they're imagining a new internet in which it's basically like the current internet. There's a small number of massive platform monopolies through which most people interact with each other and the information landscape. They just want each of these two sides just wants those existing landscapes to be more friendly to their team. And it's kind of makes sense. I think about who if you're a political media figure talking about this, it is in your interest for there to be these highly concentrated information platforms that everyone uses because if you have influence on let's say Twitter, that's massive influence. You want these platforms to be around. You want them because they can give you a lot of power in the information landscape. You just want them to be more friendly to the things you care about. So I think the current visions for 230 reinterpretations coming from the American political spectrum are not that interesting to me because it doesn't get to the core of what we do on the internet. So let's talk about a more radical thought experiment. As long as we're daydreaming. Let's talk about a more radical thought experiment. Imagine the justices came back and said, no, we're not just tweaking 230. We're essentially going to get rid of any implied protection for any type of service that does any sort of curation or recommendation of information. So in this vision, I'm thinking about, you know, it's okay if you're a search engine because you're not hosting the information. Google is just pointing you towards sites that already exist. If you're a web hosting company, you're fine. You're just running a bunch of servers that people can host WordPress instances on and websites, but you're doing no curation. You're doing no recommendation. You're just running the racks there. But if you're Facebook, nope, you're liable for everything on Facebook. If you're Twitter, you're liable for everything people put on Twitter. If you are Instagram, you're liable for anything that goes on Instagram. YouTube is liable for every video as long as they're curating and recommending the videos. And let's imagine in this extreme thought experiment that because of that, those major algorithmic curated content centric companies all go away. It becomes financially unviable. So essentially any company that's business model is built on, third party users supplying content for free, that they then use algorithms to help sort and display back to users to capture their attention. Any company doing that, what we could call the algorithmic internet, basically they go away. It becomes financially unviable because the lawsuits are myriad and unrelenting. All right, so let's ask about what this would be like. So if this algorithmic internet went away because the courts waived this one, what would be left? What would be the consequences? Would the internet that remains be usable? Would it be a step backwards? What would we face? There would obviously be a lot of short term pain. A lot of people would lose their jobs in the tech sector at first because these are big employers. A lot of stock portfolios would go down because a lot of stock portfolios have heavy tech sector investment. That would eventually shake itself out. And the optimistic view of all this talent would eventually move to perhaps more productive applications of this talent instead of saying, "Let's have the best and brightest trying to capture the attention of 17 year olds better on their phones. These people might now start be thinking about building tools or new technologies that are more generally productive, more generally beneficial to society." But that would be really disruptive. But what about the average individual internet user? I would argue, at least as long as we're daydreaming, as long as we're ignoring some of the inevitable rough edges here, the internet that remains would be more human and would actually be not such a bad place to be. So in this world where all the algorithmic internet giants are gone, I can imagine sort of three tiers of different internet sites or services. So at the top you would still have all of those old fashioned news sites and streaming services, all of those content media companies that subscribe to old fashioned beliefs like having editors, paying people who are good at what they do to produce the content that you show to people. So we're talking, you know, the New York Times dot com, New Yorker dot com, Netflix, Hulu, of course all that's still there. Right? They already have an editorial liability stance. New York Times is responsible for everything they publish. Netflix is responsible for every show they put on there. So nothing would change for them. So you would have sort of high and high quality edited, professionally produced content. All that's still there on the internet. None of that changes. In the middle tier, you would have the all of the fruits of the recent revolution, an independent media company, an independent media content. That would all still be there. Podcast, email newsletters. These are all produced by individuals. The individuals producing these things have always been liable for what they produce. If, you know, on this podcast, for example, we're liable for what we say. I mean, Jesse will tell you we get cease and desist letters from Brandon Sanderson's company, you know, what, like once or twice a week. They're reliable, right? Because, you know, we point out the truth that he wrote the name of the wind and won't admit that. And we will continue to push for that truth. But nothing would change for a podcast. We've always been liable. So nothing would change for us. Nothing would change for a newsletter subscriber. Now, I did write about this idea on my email newsletter at kelnewport.com. And a reader wrote into me and said, "Yeah, but Patreon and Substack would go away because they would be liable for the things they're hosting, and to which I would say that's not a big deal because you don't need Substack to have an email newsletter. You would just host your own, just have an account with a hosting company like I do. And you don't need a giant venture-backed company like Patreon to accept money from your supporters. Tools would just emerge. You could just plug it into your WordPress instance. I mean, all this stuff would be a little bit harder, but it would just be shifting back towards the individuals deploying these tools. Why do we have to have, every time there's something good, like newsletters? Why can't we just all have newsletters? Why does there have to be a company backed by $60 million in venture capital that tries to own all the newsletters and then turn it into some sort of glorified text-based Netflix? We would be fine. All right. And then at the lowest tier, what about individuals and their ability to express themselves? And connect to people. So we still have interesting content from the top tier in the middle tier, but what about, hey, I can't post my pictures on Instagram anymore. I can't just talk to the small niche of people. We're into Viking cosplay, and I can't send them tweets in this little tweet group we have. There, I think the shift would head back towards individually hosted websites. I have a website. I can post pictures on it. I can post videos on it. No, I can't post on YouTube, but you know what? I have a WordPress instance and a very easy plugin for me to upload videos for people to watch. This whole thing cost me a couple dollars a month, which is enough to make it difficult to have a lot of bots, but not at all prohibitive for the average user to be online. How do I find other people? It would be a little bit like 2005. Links, serendipity, word of mouth. I imagine there'd be a resurgence in feeds. So you could sort of subscribe to the feeds of people who are publishing interesting articles or pictures. There would be probably very low friction aesthetically pleasing RSS reader apps to show up on your phone. So just on your phone, you could just see like, "Hey, here's the newest stuff that Jesse posted about Viking cosplay, and I can see the pictures and the whatever." It almost would feel like a current social media network, but everyone owns their own stuff. Everyone's liable for their own stuff. It's not connected in this massive, fully connected, underlying social graph with power law dynamics, in which if Jesse says the wrong thing in one of his posts on Viking cosplay, that it can spread to the whole internet really quickly. Just way more friction and human curation involved here. I don't think that's a bad internet. I think basically what we would have there is the 2005 internet plus a lot of the cool new stuff that's happened since then, minus a lot of the bad stuff that's happened since then, minus the compulsively addictive content created by these algorithmic curated services like the TikTok, like the Instagram, minus these weird unexpected dynamics that we got from services like Twitter and Instagram, where we took everyone on the internet and put them in the same service, made them all the same. Everyone's account looks the same, everyone looks the same, put them on power law dynamics and allowed ideas to ping pong back and forth the internet. We've gone back and forth the entire world with explosive virality and get these weird tribal, this tribal entrenchment that arose, and we begin to see the worst versions of ourselves and see the worst in other people. All those dynamics are gone too. Now this would be sad for some people. Reporters would have to come out of their caves where they've been on Twitter 12 hours a day and actually get used to sunlight again and realize what the wind feels like. That would be hard for them. It would be hard to be an influencer that makes a lot of money. Now you have to sort of build your own thing. You can't rely on algorithms to jumpstart you to some sort of notoriety, but I actually think it wouldn't be that bad of an internet. So is this going to happen? No, of course not. It's not actually going to happen. The Supreme Court, nor Congress, is going to significantly change 230. If it does get changed, it's going to get changed along the narrow vision that I was talking about earlier that the political left or right has where it's going to be tweaked. Like, yeah, a little bit liable if you really put something pretty terrible on here, or you really have to have a reason to kick me off beyond just, you know, republican bad. That's what the tweaks would be and fine. We can argue about that, but to me that vision is also narrow. But I love the thought experiment. What if, in one swipe, algorithmic exploitation, curation, and recommendation of third-party user content went away might not be that bad of an internet. And I make this point not to say that that's going to happen or that we should advocate for that specific thing to happen, but that we should not just accept that the internet we've stumbled into, the consumer face the internet we've stumbled into over the past 25 years is somehow the right way to do this, or that it's somehow fundamental. There are other ways we could imagine the internet operating. There's other relationships we can imagine having to these tools. And we should keep thinking about that. We should keep daydreaming, keep wondering what a better internet might actually be like, even if it's not imminently about to happen. Alright, so Jesse, that's my sermon on section 230 and the human internet. Yeah, I like it. Haven't done a tech sermon in a while. Yeah, I figured. I used to do more of these back in the old days of the show when I was just here alone. I would do tech sermons because I was just, you know, missing humans and just sitting here alone in my office, you know, thinking random thoughts. I thought that'd be nice to get back to. I like the tech sermons. It wouldn't, if that actually happened though, it wouldn't change your life very much, right? Oh, I mean, we take this idea that these giant platforms that just suck in all of this third-party content for free basically and just repackage it with algorithms to try to capture eyeballs. That's the internet. It's not. You know, I mean, look, look at, yeah, my engagement with the internet. None of it goes through, except for YouTube. But if there's no YouTube, we would just be posting these videos on our own server. And people would be going and they'd be watching them there and that'd be fine, right? It'd be fine with that. Websites our own, the newsletters our own, the podcast is our own, reliable for everything we say, you know, it's fine. You don't have to be into, what you get in those worlds is the ability to have the Lotto ticket of the world. Of viral expansion of audience. And on the flip side, it's good for advertisers. But I don't think the world is that bad without that Lotto ticket. I don't know that Lotto ticket sudden growth and virality is even that great for people anyways. Mm-hmm. Slow and steady is my way. I'm not a very viral guy. All right. So we have a collection of questions that all loosely orbit this issue of rethinking our relationship to technology. First, I want to mention one of the sponsors that makes this show possible. That's our friends at Hinson Shaving. Jesse, true story.

Cal talks about Henson Shaving and Huel (23:22)

Speaking of Hinson Shaving, as you know, I was in Florida last weekend. Had an interesting experience. We were taxing. We were at 737-800, taxing on the runway at Dolas, getting ready to take off. And I saw, you know, the, the stair car things, they'd come up to the planes to bring the food onto the planes. Racing after racing after our plane, and it, it, it cut across another plane. It was nearest taxing. That plane skidded off of the skidded off of the runway. The front landing gear snapped. It smashes down into the ground, cuts off our plane, screeches to a stop. The overhead compartments are opening. The guy runs up the stairs, rips open the, the emergency exit door on the wing from the outside. So the slides automatically inflate. Everyone is screaming. The guy sticks his head in. I was sitting near the window and says, excuse me, sir, pointed to me. I really like your shave. He had seen it from afar. You want to say that? That shave is a Hinson razor shave. You know that I love the Hinson razor. Here's the idea. This company manufactures precision parts for the aerospace industry. So they have these machines that can do incredibly precise manufacturing apart. So they created this razor made out of aluminum. Very solid, beautiful piece of construction. It screws on that allows you to put a standard five cent safety blade, safety razor blade into their aluminum razor. Screw it on. And it's so precise that only .0013 inches of the blade extends beyond the housing. This is what gives you a really good shape because you have just enough blade to actually shave, but not so much blade that you begin to get a diving board effect where it goes up and down. That diving board effect, we have too much blade sticking out, is what causes nicks, is what causes razor burn. So by having just the barest human hair width bit of your blade coming out of the edge of your razor, you get a great shave and you only require one blade. You don't need like you get from the modern disposable companies, the 17 blades that you have to like start like a lawn mower and hold up to your face. One five simply can do it if you have a beautifully precision designed aluminum razor. So this is what I use. So this permanent thing, I'm not throwing out stuff. I'm not buying stuff. I don't have stuff mailed to me every week. I used the Hinson's, this beautifully designed Hinson's razor, clean shave, simple. Over time, I'm already saving money because the blades are so cheap, even though you pay more for the initial razor, it doesn't take long before the cost of using disposables or subscription service exceeds and continues to exceed what you spent on the one nice Hinson's razor because the actual blades are using our so cheap. So anyways, I'm a big fan of the Hinson razor. And if you like to shave, you will like it as well. So it's time to say, notice subscriptions and yes to a razor that will last you a lifetime. Visit hinsonshaving.com/cal to pick the razor for you. Use that code, Cal, at checkout and you'll get two years worth of blades for free. So you add the two year supply of blades to your cart and then use Cal promo code you check out and the cost of those will drop to zero. So that's 100 free blades when you head to H E N S O N S H A V I N G dot com slash Cal and use that code Cal. I also want to talk about a new sponsor of the show. It has a product that I've been enjoying. This is Hewell H U E L. In particular, I want to talk about the Hewell Black edition, which is a high protein, nutritionally complete meal in a convenient shake. It has everything your body needs and just two scoops that you add the water. That includes 27 essential vitamins and minerals and 40 grams of protein. So each scoop has 200 calories. So two scoops gives you more or less a reasonable sized meal. The way I have been using Hewell is because I automate my eating. My whole idea is breakfast, lunch, automate. Don't think about it. Just have a very easy way to do breakfast. Then you can cook interesting food. That's when you can actually care about your food. To me, this is the easiest way to stay healthy. I have this very strict way. I do this days when I'm on campus. I know exactly where I'm going to go to get lunch. I go to Epicurean. I get a whole bunch of vegetables. One thing of protein. When I'm at home, I know what I make. Hewell helps me in that when I have to do breakfast replacement. In my automation of my food, sometimes I don't have a lot of time. The morning, especially when I'm going on campus, knowing I can do scoop one, scoop two, shake, bring it with me in the car. I've got calories. I've got proteins. I've got vitamins. It fits perfectly with my automated meal philosophy. You just make sure breakfast and lunches are healthy. You don't think about it. Then dinner, you can actually enjoy food. That's how I use it. You can use it however you want to. I've tried different shakes. I've tried different meal replacements. This is one of my favorites. It's vegan. It's gluten free. It's lacto free. There's no artificial sweeteners. It's low glycemic index. It has a mega three. It has a mega six. There's no palm oil. It's available in nine flavors. It's also affordable. It works out to be about $2.50 for a 400 calorie meals for each double scoop you do. They will also give you a free T-shirt and a shaker with your first order if you go to Heel.com/questions. If you're looking for a good meal replacement just to automate those meals you don't want to worry about, go to Heel.com/questions. Don't forget the /questions. That's what's going to get you a free T-shirt and the shaker you can use to shake up your shake. All right. Jesse, let us do some questions all about radically rethinking a relationship to technology. Sounds great. We'll start with Jessica.

Can we build a better internet? (29:30)

What does Cal think about Urbitt? Does it answer Cal and Jordan Lanier's call for a social internet or is it just another barrier to the deep life? Well, I had to look this up. Urbitt is URBIT. It's one of these blank slate replacements for the internet. There's a lot of these that come out of the tech community. They're typically very purest. They'll have these goals. We want to exactly be fully functional, fully safe, fully peer to peer. I love these type of experiments. I didn't know Urbitt, so I looked it up. Here's the website. Again, if you're watching on YouTube, episode 237, you'll see this on your screen. The Urbitt website calls it a clean slate OS and network for the 21st century. They go on to say Urbitt is a new kind of computer that you can own completely in ways that matter, networking, identity, and data. They further explain. We realized that in order to fix the internet, we had to build a new computer from a computer from scratch. Good thing we started over a decade ago. Today, Urbitt is a real system of thousands of users that are building all kinds of community software, DAOs, and more, and it's getting better every day. It's a little bit complicated what's going on here. I spent some time reading about Urbitt earlier today. It's an operating system that runs, it's entirely in a virtual machine, completely self-encapsulates. You might run it on a different Unix-based machine, and it's like an OS that runs in its own little box that it can't break out of. It's a very safe built from scratch environment. It has peer-to-peer networking built into the kernel of this operating system. The whole idea is if you're running the Urbitt OS, it makes it very easy for you to directly connect to other people running an Urbitt OS on their own machine. Peer-to-peer connections, if you want to network nerd out on this, this protocol is implemented using UDP on top of the standard IP stack of the public internet. It also comes with a system for managing IDs. You can have a username in the Urbitt ecosystem that's yours and no one else can use it, and no one else can pretend to be you. They implement this using the Ethereum blockchain. You essentially claim a name in the blockchain, and you can give your public key in there. Now you can sign things from that name, and everyone can verify it's you, and no one else can steal it. It costs money and time and effort to put something into the blockchain too, so you can't just create thousands of fake accounts and spam and have a lot of bots because you actually have to pay to get all of these IDs put in the blockchain. That's what's going on here. What they imagine is you can create your own overlay on top of the actual internet where there are no central servers that people connect to. If I want to have a chat with a bunch of people, there's not a WhatsApp server somewhere that we all connect to that's keeping track of us and keeping track of our information. I just directly connect to the people I'm chatting to. We all just share messages back and forth. They want to make it really easy to write applications where lots of people can connect and share things with each other, and there's no central servers involved. No one that's mining your data, no one that's selling your data, and it's also there's security issues because it's a sandbox OS, all particularly protected in a virtual machine. It's very simple so there can't be malicious programs that take over your computer. Great idea in general. The issue of course with these specific tools is that they're complicated and they're missing the thing that makes the real internet fun, which is all of these services that have been really optimized and tuned to capture your attention to be interesting. They never, none of these endeavors, and there's a lot like Urbitt. None of them really ever gain mainstream traction because they're pure and appealing to people who understand the technology, but they're not very fun, and most people don't care. Here's my argument. I like these directions, but I don't think we actually need new technologies, new operating systems or new protocols to build a more human internet. I think the tools that have long existed are already sufficient to create a DIY human internet without needing new peer-to-peer native operating systems without needing blockchains or building dows. What are these tools? Here's my vision of a more DIY human internet. You consume podcasts, you consume email newsletters. You still use, as we talked about in the deep dive, you still use a high-end editorial content provider, so maybe you still stream HBO or read the New York Times or something like this. You talk for people that you know, and you're probably using text threads with people you actually know to have digital conversations with. If you yourself want to express yourself on the internet like we talked about before, you can have your own server instance somewhere and have a WordPress server where you can post videos and you can post images and you can post text and you can put them out in RSS feed and you can follow what other people are doing as well. That's kind of it. That is a DIY, more human internet that you could make that your interaction with the internet today, that you have some professionally edited sites with professional content producers to get great content from the internet. You listen to some podcasts, you read some email newsletters, maybe you post some stuff and you talk directly with people you've met online through text messages and you know their sites, they know yours and that's it. There is no supervirality and there is no, I need to see everything that's going on in the world. There needs to be memes and I need to have 100,000 people who are going to watch my video because of an algorithm. You don't need any of that. What I'm saying is this is not as, from a technical perspective, not as pure or interesting as these conceptions like Urbit where you have all of these standards it meets and it's entirely decentralized and we're using the blockchain and it's entirely peer to peer. Now it's still messy but it's more human. So that's usually how I come down on these is we could just change our engagement with the internet today to be more human without a new tool needing to be introduced. It's much more about what we don't do than what we need to do. It's much more about I don't want to deal with giant platforms that just suck in a lot of third party content and then use algorithms to spread it back out and capture people's attention. I just don't want to use Instagram. I don't want to be on Twitter. It's the same what you don't want to do. What's left behind I think is still a pretty great internet. So I call that the DIY human internet because it is something that you can implement in your relationship to these tools right now. All right what we got next Jesse.

Will the coming augmented reality make the deep life impossible? (36:27)

All right next question is from Brian. You've often mentioned that you view the next big disruption and personal tech being the transition to using augmented reality glasses to project virtual screens. How do you see this development interacting with the attention economy, chronic distraction and the plasticity of quiet in our lives? So Brian for those who haven't heard this prediction of mine, you know this is where I think the future of the personal electronics industry is going is we're going to move away eventually from a world in which there are many different devices that all have their own processors and dedicated screens so we have a computer, we have an iPad, we have a phone, we have a television. All of these have their own processors and screens. I think it's inevitable that we're going to move away from that world to a world where we each have augmented reality goggles that can project screens of very high resolution convincingly anywhere in our actual physical world. So I don't need a physical phone. I can have a phone screen just appear. I don't need to carry a laptop with me to write on the plane. I can just have my laptop screen appear as if it's right there in front of me. I don't need to buy a high in television. I can make a very large television screen appear on an otherwise blank wall. I think the economics there just make a lot of sense. And so we're going to see a collapse of the consumer electronics industry towards software. So like a lot of these, you don't build a TV, you build TV software. You don't build a phone, you build phone software. So there's going to collapse towards software and a small number of people who make the goggles and the companies that win in that battle to produce this hardware are going to be some of the largest companies we've ever seen in the history of the world. Because imagine if Apple and Sony and Samsung, you know, all were one company. And all of that consumer base was all being served by one company and one product. It's going to make the success of the iPhone seem like a niche product. So that's why I think it's going to happen. Interestingly, the biggest, I won't get too much into the details here. I think there's too big obstacles to this. One is of course just getting the AR technology sufficiently advanced. That will solve. That's getting a lot better. That will solve. The biggest issue now I think is the computation. So the way you would want to imagine this is going to work is that the computation, so the phone operating system or the TV operating system or the computer operating system is running efficiently on a virtual instance and a server farm somewhere. And essentially that instance is just streaming over the internet to your glasses the screen images. So all you need on yourself is a box that can accept here's the screen that's being generated by some powerful, you know, program. And I just put that screen in the world. So then I don't need my personal device to be able to do all the different computation. It doesn't have to actually generate the images from scratch itself. If I'm playing a video game, for example, I don't need my computer attached to my AR glasses to be calculating all those polygons. That can be in an instance somewhere. And I'm just getting the screen captures, right? And if I have a pipeline where the screen can be streamed to me, then my glasses can do anything, right? Because we can have as much back in power as we need. The issue, I think the biggest bottleneck to this future is having enough low enough latency and high enough bandwidth to actually stream those screens fast enough to these devices that it actually looks like a native running device. There's a whole interesting discussion of this in Matthew Ball's book, The Metaverse. And basically what he says is they've tried this. There's a Google product, for example, that does this with video games where they just stream the screens and you don't actually have to have the video game processor local. It's hard because it takes time to send things across connections. Even the speed of light is not as fast as you would like it to be when you're trying to send 100 frames a second over the internet. You also need a lot of bandwidth. So there's some real problems that have to be solved there. I imagine a future in which you're basically going to have a virtual machine instance that follows you geographically. So it's wherever you are, it's in a data center near you. And it is like one powerful instance is doing all of your computations and sending the... It's close enough that it can actually send the screens to you fast enough. Anyways, Brian, that's all nerd stuff. The big conclusion here is we probably are coming to a future that's the case. Will that make us more distracted? It will, but not in the way that I think science fiction writers think. So I think science fiction writers imagine if once we have a world with these augmented reality glasses that somehow we're going to be subjected to constant advertisements just floating in our world. That there's like in Ready Player One, the Spielberg version of that book, that there's just all these different floating ads everywhere because we could do that. I don't think that's what's going to happen. These consumer technology companies like Apple, they don't really care. They're not selling advertisements to you. They want to sell their products to you. So I don't think that's going to be the issue. I don't think we're going to add clutter our visual field with things that don't exist today that are pulling out our attention. Here's the problem is going to be it will be difficult to get away from your devices. So any one moment in this new future I'm talking about will not look visually distinct from a moment today. There might be a phone screen here that you're scrolling through to check out a text message. There might be a computer screen here where you're writing an email. It won't look any more cluttered or high tech or different than our world today. The difference is we're going to always have the ability to bring up that phone screen. We're always going to have the ability to bring up that computer screen because as long as there's one thing we might need to do, we're going to have those glasses on. If we have the glasses on, we're one swipe or one telegraphic brain link, you know, thought away from having a screen pop up. And so it's going to be like 2023 if you weren't really able to put your phone away for a while. If you weren't able to just go for a walk and not have a TV screen with you. So I think that's going to be the real issue is the ubiquity of screens will be total once we're in this AR future. Any screen you want will always be available. That is a pretty hard thing to resist. And so what we're going to have to do to prepare ourselves for that Brian, I think, is become practiced digital minimalist. We need to start getting much more serious about thinking proactively. Here's what matters to me in my life. Here's how I want to use technology to support these things. Those are the only reasons I use technology. The getaway from technology is just a default thing we do when we're bored or something we only remove if we can point out a specific harm. And instead see technology as something we add to service other more lofty goals, we're going to have to become much better at structuring our relationship to the digital because this AR future is going to make the digital always one hand swipe away. So it's going to be a much harder distraction environment. Now, Jesse, that's my one prediction I've been making consistently. I don't hear about a lot. Yeah, I don't hear about it from you. Yeah, I feel good about it. And I've had other predictions where, you know, people thought I was crazy. I think some of the coming zeitgeist shift and destabilization of social media, you know, I was pushing that. I was seeing that hard to write on the wall 2016, 2017 and people thought I was crazy. And it's all sort of coming to play. So I'm going to give myself the benefit of the doubt on this AR question. I think 10 years, 10 year window, we're going to see a major shift of the personal consumer technology industry. And then you can always take the glasses off, right? Yeah, you can take them off, but we're going to become so used to the idea of if I just need one thing, like if I'm writing, I need to go, or watching TV, I need the glasses on the watch TV, like watch a movie. But now the phone is right there and the tablet is right there. My video game player is right there. And I'm just imagining a 14 year old with this technology, just like video game, video game phone, phone, you just movie movie, just like moving these things all around. Like we're going to have to get our act together before we give ourselves such like universal accessibility. You're going to have to write the sequel to the book. I know, or maybe just more people can buy that book. All right, speaking of digital minimum, I think this next question is relevant, right? What do we got here? All right.

How do I become more disciplined about shutting down my phone? (44:35)

Next question is from Nandon. What are the benefits of shutting down the phone usage before going to bed and after waking up? What techniques can I implement to become more disciplined in doing so? Well, Nandon, I mean, the benefits are massive. Because what do we really talk about here? If you're using your phone up to the moment you go to bed, if you're using your phone, the moment that you wake up, that means that you are constantly in this four dimensional world where you have the real and the digital and it's all sort of mixed together. That's not a humane way to live. It's an impoverished approach to reality. It is an anxiety generation machine. It is also a potential magnet just pulling all this potential for you constructing a life well lived and just sucking it away and converting it into returns on the stock owners of these giant people who own stock, these giant attention economy platforms. It is no way to live. That's the benefit. So how do you get away from it? Well, Nandon, you have to be way more aggressive than what you're talking about here. What you're talking about here, I see all the time. You want the nibble at the edges with tips. I use my phone too much. Do you have a good tip? Like maybe I should stop not bringing the bedroom or I should have a time. I start turning on my phone. This is not how we solve this problem. When your life is entirely enmeshed with the digital, we do not solve this problem by nibbling at the edges with tips. We don't solve this problem by writing books where we put in all these caveats about like, "Well, I'm not saying that you shouldn't use your phone and please don't yell at me." But like, maybe if you're able, you should consider putting down your phone while you're having dinner, but unless you really need your phone during dinner, that's not what's going to solve this problem. We need to fundamentally repair our relationship with these tools. We need a philosophy, well thought through, about how technology is integrated into our lives. The philosophy I preach is digital minimalism from my book, eponymously titled digital minimalism, and it's a pretty simple approach. It says what you need to do is figure out what you care about in your life, the positive, what you want to spend time doing. You then work backwards and say for each of these things I care about, what's a really useful way or effective way to use technology to support it? Your answer to those questions describes the technologies you use. Everything else you don't use. For something to lay claim to your time and attention, it has to go through the test of, "I care about this. This technology is the best way to support this." And here are the specific rules I use for using this technology to support this thing I care about. Everything else by default you do not use in your life. It allows you to leverage the power of technology without being a slave to their worst excesses. That's where you need to get nanded. You need to establish your own philosophy of digital minimalism. You don't just need tips to nibble at the edges of excessive phone use. But I know tips help people. So let me give you a few warm up rules that will prepare you for going through a bigger digital minimalism type transition. These are rules that real digital minimalists have come up with as they've gone through this exercise of reshaping their relationship to technology. Number one, the phone for your method. I see this a lot. I see this a lot among minimalists who really think through, "How do I want to use tech?" When you are at home, the phone goes on a shelf in the kitchen or in your for your, it's plugged into charge. That's where it is. If you're expecting a call, put the ringer on. If it rings, you can go in there and answer the call. There's text messages you might need to check in on. You can walk through the foyer of the kitchen. That phone stays plugged in and you can answer those text messages right there. It is not with you elsewhere in your house. So it's not with you when you're watching TV. If you want to go see if someone texted you, you got to walk over there and stand there at the foyer typing until you're done with that. If you want to look something up, you have to walk over the foyer, look it up, type it in and then go back to what you're doing. It's not with you at the dinner table. It's for sure not with you in the bedroom. So that's an example of a rule around use that might emerge as you do a digital minimalism overhaul to your life. Another rule that I think is interesting that's emerged often among digital minimalist is purposefully engineered, disconnected time every single day. Every single day I'm going for a walk or running an errand without a phone. And if I'm bored, I'm bored. And if an emergency happens, an emergency happens. You know what? Until like a minute ago, we did not have phones with us everywhere we went and the vast majority of us did not die in tragic emergencies because we were unable to quickly text someone. So you might want to try those as a warm up nanded phone for your method, significant expedition or time every day without your phone just to get used to what it's like not to be with it. That's a good warm up, but you need to do the full transformation. My book digital minimalism is a good place to start. That book is available in lots of different countries. I think we've sold rights on that to a lot of different places. So wherever you're from, you can probably find a copy of that book. All right. I like it. We're rolling, Jesse. Let's keep moving. All right.

Is the internet alive? (49:44)

Next question is from Andrew. Can the internet be possibly conscious? The internet seems living to me. Andrew is not. I've actually done a bit of a deep dive recently on machine consciousness for a big article. I'm working on about artificial intelligence and consciousness. I've been thinking about this. I can come up with multiple reasons, maybe three or four different reasons why the internet itself is not conscious. Now, I understand why people think this. So as Andrew elaborated in the full version of his question, he said, "Look, this thing is all of these connections, like it's just deeply connected, all these network connections. That looks like a brain." There's storage. Think about all this information on servers. We have all these connections that's taking information on servers and moving it to other servers. It looks like a giant brain. It's of a huge scale. Isn't it possible that something like consciousness can emerge there? And from my understanding of machine consciousness philosophy, no, probably not. All right. So issue number one, issue number one, we can get by looking at research from a field known as the neuronal correlates of consciousness. NCC, it's a well established field that was sort of lost in the '90s. Watson of Watson and Crick's fame was actually involved in the beginning of this field. They study using clever experiments in brain imaging tools, human consciousness, and in particular, what areas of the nervous system in humans seem to be involved in the experience of consciousness. And basically, the conclusion of that research is that it's very small and very specialized. We have huge sections of our brain, for example, that process stuff all the time, like the visual cortex that's constantly processing and trying to make sense of images. Their experiments do not find that as having any sort of standalone consciousness. It's just generating information. Our gut is incredibly complicated. The nerves in our gut and digestive system is very complicated. NCC research says there's no consciousness we can find. None of our sense of consciousness emerges from those actual centers. They've identified these very narrow portions deep in our brain where a lot of different information integrates, where this seems to be where activity in here is where our notion of conscious awareness for ourselves seems to depend on. The point of this is consciousness does not have hazard. Just connecting a bunch of neurons is not going to give you consciousness. It's not just a matter of numbers. Well, if we make this network big enough, if we have a huge neural network that can process images really well, eventually it's conscious. That's not how it works. We need very, very specialized structures. Most likely we need very, very specialized structures that have been engineered exactly to generate something like consciousness to create it. So NCC research pushes you away from this idea that if something kind of looks like a brain and it's big, it's probably going to just eventually have consciousness. The other issue is the connections that make up the internet are too loose. There are a lot of connections, but they're probably not nearly dense enough to have enough what's known as integration. There's a whole other theory about consciousness that has to do with the integration of machines. The internet is not densely connected enough. It's highly connected. There's many ways for me to get from this server to that server through network links, but it's not super densely connected. So it's probably not nearly connected enough, like the human brain is, as you would need for something like consciousness. We also have the issue of the connectivity of the internet. It's not oriented towards the type of goals that we think aggregate up to be necessary for consciousness. So the human brain, different parts of the brain do very specific things that feed in the higher layers that make use of those things in very specific ways. We have image processing and these images then go into more complicated integration cortical frames which bring in other types of information, those connect to the memory. It's incredibly precisely, the brain is precisely structured to build up and integrate information in a way that then those specialized centers can create consciousness. The internet's not doing that. You can't just take a random collection of network connections and say this thing is processing information. It's not. It's just sending packets back and forth. The final issue is it's too slow. The speed of what it would take for actual information, the actual speed that it functionally moves to the internet where you have to wait until it's your time in the packet queue and then this thing gets sent over here and a program has it and eventually some packets get sent over here. That's so slow compared to neurons in a human brain that if somehow packets going back and forth and data being pulled in and out of hard disks was creating something like a giant human brain. It's a human brain that operated incredibly slowly. No, Andrew, I think if we look deeper at these questions of machine consciousness, the internet is probably not alive. If you want to find out more about this, a good introduction to these notions can be found in Max Tegmark's book Life 3.0. He has some chapters in the end about consciousness and I think it covers a lot of this really well. Also, again, I'm hinting that I'm writing an article about this. Keep an eye out for a cow Newport byline at some point in the next few weeks, maybe, but we'll also take a deeper look at these questions as well. What would a dense internet look like? Well, I think the issue is the human brain is very densely connected. So lots of things are connected to each other. The internet's not actually that densely connected. It's highly connected. If I want to get information from a server in this room to a server in Singapore, it's like a lot of paths we could go on. Would it all have to be a one giant server for it to be dense? But it would have to be more like my servers connected directly to like 10,000 other servers. The servers in this one area are all densely connected to each other. They can all work together and process things. It's not really the way the internet is. It's much more sparse than that. Interesting. That's probably not big enough either. I mean, I don't know the total number of internet links, but the number of actual neuronal connections in even the human brain numbers in the trillions. I don't think there's that many links in the internet. All right. I think we have time for one more.

How does Cal see the connection between his professor and writer roles? (55:49)

Next question is from Teresa. How do you see your work as a professor interfacing with your writing? Does it support your writing lifestyle or is it fulfilling your other interests?

Cal talks about Mint Mobile and Policy Genius (56:00)

Well, I want to include this in part because I think it's relevant to this discussion of rethinking technology because that's a lot of the work I do and also just because of the timing. So around the time this episode is released, knock on wood, a newer version of my website, calnewport.com will also be released. So I've rebuilt my web presence to try to provide more clarity on this question of what's Cal and professor is he a writer? Are these unrelated? What about his podcast? Like what goes on in Cal's life? How do these things interact? I'm reshaping my online presence to try to add some clarity here. So if you look at the new Cal Newport.com, once it launches, you'll see I have merged my academic website with my personal website into one unified website and the homepage will be split right down the middle. And one side it says Cal the writer on the other side says Cal the academic. So I directly confront this question on my new version of my website. What are these roles and how do they interact? And the way I see it is that as an academic, I'm a computer science and technologist who does academic type of work on those questions. That includes, you know, hardcore old fashioned computer science theory. Increasingly moving forward, my academic work is going to is is including and will continue to include rigorous academic work on issues around technology and their interaction with culture and society. So there's some shifts that are happening potentially in my role at Georgetown and some other work I'm getting involved in. So I'm an academic that publishes stuff about technology. Some of it's like hardcore math. Some of it is more tech and culture, tech and society, tech intersecting with work, tech intersecting with our lives and democracies, et cetera. I'm also a writer who writes about all sorts of issues that orbit that general theme for non academic audiences. So the New Yorker of course is like the main article outlet for me and then I also write books. And again, my public facing writing is for the most part in the last whatever many years is related pretty strongly to this academic history. So I'm sort of an intellectual that thinks about technology and society and technologists at university and then I write these public facing things that all sort of orbit around it. You know, when I'm talking, people think of me sometimes as they talk about productivity. It's not really productivity by itself I'm talking about. I'm talking about work in a world with all these digital tools and how that upended what work meant and how do we rethink work in a world where we have ubiquitous internet connections. How did something like email completely change our relationship to work or a book like Digital Minimalism. I'm talking about how our sense of our self and our vision of the life well lived was changed by ubiquitous high speed wireless internet access. So a lot of the things I write about really orbit around technology creating these unexpected side effects in our society. So I'm an academic and I'm a writer and County, we're doc and they're related and county per calm makes that clear. In that work, right, so in this work I've done, especially the public facing writing, one of the things that emerged from it was what I think of as the deep life movement. So there is this sort of more pragmatic community that emerged from some of my work about how do I live a deeper life. How do I personally like rethink my life so that my work is deeper, my life is deeper in an increasingly distracted world. This community, this movement arose out of all these issues I was writing about in my books and in my articles and to some degree in my academic work. So then the way I understand that is that I have sort of spun off this movement, this deep life movement as sort of its own thing that I helped create and I'm putting it out there into the world and it's under that umbrella that you have this podcast. It's under that umbrella that you have the videos I do for YouTube. It's a movement that's about very pragmatically trying to make your life deeper. Now we actually have, this has been soft launched, me and Jesse have been working on this. We've soft launched a website just for that movement, the deeplife.com. And you can actually go check that out right now. We're going to be pushing this more heavily as we get it more up the speed and we get more used to it. But basically it's a standalone home where you can go and listen to every podcast, watch all the videos I've done. See clips, any clip from a podcast on the same page as that podcast. Go to all the show notes. There's a page for every podcast episode we've done. We have Netflix style carousels for everything I'm doing on YouTube. So you can watch the videos I use without having to go to YouTube.com without having to see algorithmic recommendations. You can just treat the deeplife.com like a personal Netflix. This is an online movement that we're going to grow. Other personalities can eventually be involved. People, content and providers that aren't just me. And so that's its own movement. It's about this one idea that people are very interested in that I'm trying to help people with trying to make a positive impact in the world. But the right way to understand the deeplife movement, the deeplife.com, it's like when John Hight started Heterodox University, or Heterodox Academy, whatever he called it. It's a particular movement or organization he created about one idea that he worked on as a social psychologist. But he's a social psychologist who works on other things. So that's the way I understand myself. I work on the intersection of technology and culture. I write about a lot of different things on these issues. One of the things that has been most impactful that I've worked on has been this idea of the deeplife and deeplife movement. So I've spun that off into its own organization and entity and portal and will be continuing to sort of feed and grow that. And so that's how I understand how all these pieces fit together. I don't know if that's complicated, Jesse. In my mind, that all makes sense? Yeah, I know. I think I like it. And you structured well. And I think the deeplife.com will really be pushing, you know, a slow productivity, guys, so take our time. But slowly we're growing this, slowly we're growing things. So I think the new Kal Newport.com that integrates the academic and writing portions of my life in the one site. And then the deeplife.com has been the home for the podcast, the home for the video. So that's not living on Kal Newport.com. I think there's a lot of, for me, clarity in that. So I can be an academic who thinks about technology and writes academic stuff on it, also writes public facing stuff on it. And then also I have this entity I created, the deeplife.com that really helps this one movement that came out of my work, really helped that grow and help a lot of people. But the important thing I think is to distinguish my general work as a thinker from the deeplife.com, I write about a lot of other stuff too. And I think that's the difference between, let's say, me and just someone who's maybe like an online personality. It's not like the deeplife.com, this podcast, like this is me. Yeah. It's not like this is all I do. This is something I started because I think it's very important. But it doesn't totalize what I work on. A lot of my New Yorker stuff is deeper looks at particular issues about technology, the workplace, the future of the workplace, it maybe has nothing to do with the quest to live a deeper life. My academic work I'm working on now is some of it's pretty technical. It's not directly related to it. So I think by having, being able to separate these two, we can really feed the deeplife as a movement and help as many people as possible without muddying it up too much with, oh, and I'm giving this lecture at this university on digital ethics or something like, they're related, but they're not all the same thing. So we'll see if that's clear. The new countyport.com makes this clear. So it's like, oh, if you want to watch videos or podcasts, that's all over at the deeplife.com. Is this the first time your academic stuff has been on the website? Yeah. So I used to have a, all right, it's still up. I'm going to have to sort of change it. A website at Georgetown.edu. And that was all my academic stuff. So now people can go do a deep dive in your academic world. You can read my CV, you can look at my publications. Yeah. The academic stuff is all, it's all going to be on Calenduport.com. Knock on what that's going to be live. I mean, it's going live the day after we record this, hopefully, but website launches are tricky. So maybe it won't. But anyways, I don't know if that's clear for people, but that's what I'm trying to do. I mean, I think the big shift happening in my academic career now is to doing more tech and society stuff in my academic career. And then that makes it, to me, it makes things a lot clearer. So I do academic work on tech and society. I do public facing writing on that. That's my role as a public thinker. Well, you still write these complex math papers. I mean, I'm working on one now. Yeah. You like that though, right? I like that. Yeah. I like being an academic. So keep your math skills up. It's a weird fake job. I really like it. All right. So final segment of the show. We shift gears and go to talk about something interesting, right? Just take something interesting that a listener sent me to my interesting at Calenduport.com. I'll address, I got a good one, at least one that makes me happy for a lot of reasons. Before we get there, let me just briefly mention another one of our sponsors. That's our friends at Mint Mobile. The idea with Mint Mobile is that it is a company that sells premium wireless service and it does it in an online only format. They don't have physical brick and mortar stores. So they get rid of all that overhead cost. And so they can sell you really high end wireless and cellular service cheap. So you can just order right from home. You do it online. They could just send you a SIM card. You can stick into any phone. Without all that overhead, you can have cellular wireless service starting as low as just $15 a month. We're talking about unlimited talk and text and high-speed data delivered on the nation's largest 5G network. But they're so efficient, you can get this cheap. Two things you can do with Mint Mobile. One, just lower your wireless bill. I think people just get numbed into their accounts with one of the big players and how much money they're spending. They're like, "I don't know. My phone's important." And they just get used to these big bills going out every month. You can get equally good high-speed data, high-speed connections for very cheap with Mint Mobile. It's not hard. You do it all online. They send you this thing. You stick it into the phone and you have it. The other thing you can do with Mint Mobile is what I do with it. I use it to set up a cheap secondary phone account. What I wanted to do, and I brought it in again today, so if you're watching on YouTube, you can see it. I have it turned off so that you won't accidentally see any personal information. 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To get your new wireless plan for just $15 a month and get that plan shipped to your door for free, go to mintmobile.com/deep. That's mintmobile.com/deep. The other thing I want to briefly mention before we get to something interesting is our other friends at PolicyGenius. This is tax season. I often get stress during tax season because I know I'm supposed to be preparing my taxes for our accountant. It's looming over my head. There's always these ambiguities involved where you're trying to pull together the information. There's something you don't quite have. I procrastinate. We all do that. One of the other very common areas where people procrastinate is in life insurance. Just like you know you need to prepare your taxes, you know you need life insurance if there's anyone who depends on you financially. Why don't you have life insurance because it's a pain? You don't know how to start. Where do you go to get it? Who do you talk to? You have to talk to that guy in the red shirt from that commercial or the lady that wears the flow. I don't know. What insurance company? How does this even work? This is why people don't get life insurance when they know they need it because they don't know where to start. I'll tell you how to do it. Policy genius. They make it easy. Their whole idea is to modernize the life insurance industry. Their technology makes it easy to compare life insurance quotes from America's top insurers. In just a few clicks, you can get your lowest price. Click boom. Off my task list. You just go to policygenius.com and you can get life insurance set up real easy. With policy genius, you can find life insurance policies that start at just $39 per month for $2 million of coverage. That's a great price. Some options offer coverage and as little as a week and they avoid unnecessary medical exams. If you need life insurance, just go to policygenius.com. Click on the link in the description. You can click on policygenius.com. There's a link in the description or just go to policygenius.com. You'll love one to serve a financial safety net. You deserve a smarter way to find and buy it. Go to policygenius.com. Get the life insurance 10 minutes from now. You can take that off your task list. All right, Josie, let's do something interesting. Before we get into the particular thing I want to show you, I just want to mention briefly a friend of the show has a new book out and I want to mention that for the interested listeners. My friend Robert Glaser who runs the Elevate Podcast. It's a podcast I've been on several times. It's been around for a really long time. I really like that podcast. He has a new book that's just come out or is just about to come out, depending on when you hear this, called Elevate Your Team. Empower your team to reach their full potential and build a business that builds leaders. I blurb this book. Let me just read you my blurb. For those who are watching on YouTube, you can see my picture right here next to Dan Pink. Here's what I said. A team that reaches its full capacity is a force to be reckoned with. Robert Glaser provides an evidence-based roadmap for achieving this goal. Here's Dan Pink's blurb. It just happens to be right next to mine. This book is at once perceptive and practical. It will open new vistas for your own thinking about leadership and a quick view with a host of tools and tips to build capacity in your team. Follow Bob Glaser or prepare to be left behind. If you run a team, if you're in management, check out Elevate Your Team. Bob's just a friend of ours. I wanted to mention that. Something interesting. The article I want to discuss today is titled -- where's the actual title here?

Interesting Fact: Michael Cera'S Aversion To Smartphones

Something Interesting: Michael Cera Doesn’t Use a Smartphone (01:11:04)

I'm loading this up on the screen for those who are watching episode 237 on YouTube. Here's a title that's at Buzzfeed. Michael Serra explained why he doesn't own a smartphone and honestly, it's a solid explanation. Michael Serra, of course, played George Michael on the epic cult classic Fox TV comedy Arrested Development. Just say, I have to say something that made me happy the other day is in my class at Georgetown. I'm teaching 19-year-olds who would have been not of TV watching age when Arrested Development came out. I made a Arrested Development reference in class. I was talking about the need -- I was saying there's always points when you're doing induction problems on an exam. You always get some points for just doing the base case, which is easy. There's always points in the base case. I said, if you need to remember this, it's just sort of my version of there's always money in the banana stand, which is an Arrested Development reference. Two students came up to me after class and said, I just want to say I really appreciated the Arrested Development reference. Even the young kids today, at least some of them, have come across Arrested Development, gives me hope for the future. Michael Serra was a star of Arrested Development and has done a bunch of other stuff since. This BuzzFeed article has some cool details. Let me just read a few things from this article here. It all warms my heart. In an interview with the Hollywood Reporter about his latest projects, Michael explained why he's rejected modern cell phone technology and attempted to keep his private life extremely private. The reality is that Michael is not a fan of too much socializing and he's completely opted out of social media. It doesn't feel conscious, he said. I guess it's just something that I didn't elect to do because everyone does it. It starts to feel like a big choice, but it's just not that interesting to me. In fact, he's so private, you won't even catch him with an iPhone or Android. His explanation makes a lot of sense. I also don't have a smartphone he added and that is a conscious choice because I feel a bit of fear about it, honestly, like I'd really lose control of my waking life. I think that's cool. Here's the message. Michael Serra, my good friend Michael Serra and I do not use social media. He doesn't even use a smartphone between the two of us. We have been involved in multiple Emmy and award winning shows and cool movies. Between the two of us, we're actually quite famous. He won all the movies. He did all the movies. But I think it's cool. Here's the bigger point. When we say I need to use something, I need to use social media. I need to have a smartphone. What we usually really mean by need is I'm afraid that some bad things might happen if I don't. Serra gets into this farther on in this Buzzfeed article about, yeah, there's probably roles I didn't get. There's probably some opportunities that aren't available to me because I'm not out there with a big social media presence. But here's the thing. Who cares? He has a cool life. He was involved in a cool show. He's done cool plays. He's done cool movies. He continues to work. He's not a huge celebrity because he's not out there. He's not that visible. So he has his private life still relatively private. He didn't need to use these tools. He just recognized if he didn't, he might lose a few opportunities. And he said, great. What a fair price. What a fair price to pay to have a life that's more under my control. That's what I like about this Michael Serra example. You don't have to fall into this optimization mindset of like, okay, if I'm going to be an actor, how can I be the most successful possible actor in the history of the world? And I don't want to do anything that's going to take that away from you. How about just like I want to be a working actor and I have a cool life or I want to be a writer instead of saying, I want to optimize to be the best and author of all time and tell I outsell James Clear. I am going to every night stay up and say, what can I do to get there? How about just like I'm an author that sells books and people like them and it's a really cool life? You know, you don't have to optimize everything. You don't have to be the baseball player trying to break the record for AAV in this contract. So that's Michael Serra. He's built a cool life without having trying to wring out every possible bit of exposure or growth. And I like that. The other thing I learned about this and Jesse, maybe you're more familiar with Buzzfeed, but what the hell is going on with this? Is this what Buzzfeed is? It's just like pictures with two sentences that another picture that another two sentences. I never go on Buzzfeed. My goodness. That's the other lesson I take away from this. Buzzfeed kind of depresses me. See, Michael Serra can probably be probably reading long New Yorker pieces because he's not distracted by his phone. If you're on your phone all the time, I guess you have to just read Buzzfeed. So I was a little depressed. They finally be exposed to Buzzfeed. That's kind of depressing, but it's balanced out by the fact that Michael Serra is the man. George Michael is the man. So I like to call him Mr. Manager, the rest of the development reference. He doesn't use a phone and he's doing pretty well for himself. All right. Well, speak about doing well for ourselves. I think this has been a pretty good episode. I enjoy doing a little bit of tech sermonizing and prognostication. If you like what you heard, you'll like what you saw, the full episode and clips will be available at youtube.com/countinportmedia. We'll be back next week with another episode of the show and until then, as always, stay deep.

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