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Conclusion and takeaways from my Journey Away from Smartphones series

Journey away from smartphones

by Tom Johnson on Jan 29, 2023 •
categories: technical-writing

A New York Times article about Luddite teens who rejected their smartphones made me reflect on my own journey away from smartphones and the complexities of discerning how to adopt transformative technology in my life. In this conclusion to the series, I highlight key learnings and realizations throughout the year, including how the project changed me for the better.

Luddite teens

The New York Times recently published an article titled “Luddite Teens Don’t Want Your Likes” (Vadukul), which brought back nostalgic memories for me of the six weeks I spent without a smartphone. The article begins:

On a brisk recent Sunday, a band of teenagers met on the steps of Central Library on Grand Army Plaza in Brooklyn to start the weekly meeting of the Luddite Club, a high school group that promotes a lifestyle of self-liberation from social media and technology. As the dozen teens headed into Prospect Park, they hid away their iPhones—or, in the case of the most devout members, their flip phones, which some had decorated with stickers and nail polish.

… [One club member comments:] When I got my flip phone, things instantly changed …. I started using my brain. It made me observe myself as a person. I’ve been trying to write a book, too. It’s like 12 pages now.

As I read the article, I began to trace back in my mind why I returned to using my smartphone and if I should go back to living without it. The club founder, Logan Lane, explains how Instagram made her feel bad about herself, so she first deleted the app, then put her phone in a box. With her phone locked away, life opened up all around her:

For the first time, she experienced life in the city as a teenager without an iPhone. She borrowed novels from the library and read them alone in the park. She started admiring graffiti when she rode the subway, then fell in with some teens who taught her how to spray-paint in a freight train yard in Queens. And she began waking up without an alarm clock at 7 a.m., no longer falling asleep to the glow of her phone at midnight. Once, as she later wrote in a text titled the “Luddite Manifesto,” she fantasized about tossing her iPhone into the Gowanus Canal.

I, too, once fantasized about throwing my smartphone into a canal. And I did give my smartphone up for six weeks, but then returned. Reading this article, I started to think back on my journey. What happened to me? Why did I revert?

I’ve already recounted the story of returning to my smartphone in Six weeks in—returning to smartphone (but not as before). In my experience, the killer app of smartphones is not an app at all—it’s the full-screen keyboard, which allows you to text. Without the ability to text, I couldn’t communicate much with my wife and other family members. Email is pre-Jurassic, and frequently ignored. Without text, you can still talk on the phone, but phone conversations and voicemail are inconvenient and slow, especially for quick notes.

Texting can be a double-edged sword, though. On the one hand, it allows us to communicate quickly and easily through a screen-based keyboard. On the other, it gives us access to app interfaces and the vast amount of information on the Internet, all in the palm of our hand.

Besides texting with my family, another factor that contributed to my decision to return to using a smartphone was reading Kevin Kelly’s What Technology Wants. Kelly convinced me that the constant introduction of new technologies is inevitable and that wholesale rejecting them is akin to adopting the mindset of Ted Kaczynski. Sure, I could resist, but doing so made everything increasingly more difficult, sending me on constant workaround hacks.

I realized that I needed to find ways to make peace with technology and use it in a way that worked in my favor. So I switched back to smartphones with modified rules. My modified rules worked well for several months. But as I became more curious to pinpoint the precise element related to smartphones that pulled my attention away from books, I started adding back more and more sites and practices.

It wasn’t long before I once again found myself checking sites on my smartphone frequently, even without apps. Even without apps, you can read most content just as easily from a web browser like Chrome. Responsive design has gotten that good. Chrome remembers your most frequently visited sites with little one-click images on its homepage, making it almost app-like.

I also started checking both personal and work email on my phone. I found myself once again looking at email at any spare moment of my day—waiting in line for coffee, waiting for the elevator, in the bathroom, on the train, and so on. I felt bad about this, especially because I don’t even receive that many email messages. Yet I had already relearned to check my email and news every twenty minutes.

I also started backsliding against my 90-minute pomodoros, which had been the key to unlocking so much productivity. I told myself that I no longer needed these pomodoros, that my focus on a task was fine even with small interruptions to check email, news, or more.

All the while, I started reading less and feeling more superficial, getting less done. My productivity plummeted. What happened? I let the smartphone control my life again.

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I avoided bringing my phone into my bedroom at night, but I would just bring my laptop instead and get hooked on some mindless TV show. Or I’d wake up early, such as 4:30 am, and reach for my laptop (conveniently located under the bed) to continue the show. After all, what else can you do at 4:30 am when you can’t sleep?

I felt like a former alcoholic who had fallen off the wagon. I underestimated the insidiousness of the smartphone and Internet. I tried to remove both Chrome and Gmail but found that I couldn’t remove these apps on Android, only disable them, so I did. I assumed that re-enabling them wouldn’t be that hard, but I did manage to resist doing so.

Disabling these apps (Gmail and Chrome, specifically) made my smartphone more of a paperweight. Without these apps, the smartphone became useful only for a small number of functions. I deliberated about switching to the Light Phone but remembered how with the Kyocera, I spent so much time figuring out complex workarounds (such as using srccpy, “screen copy,” to digitally mirror the phone on my computer so that I could text my wife). Reading articles like I’m Gen Z, and I ditched my iPhone for the Light Phone II for a week reminded me of these hacks. The initial rush of abandoning these technologies is quickly replaced by the inability to perform basic tasks, which reveal themselves little by little. For example, want to listen to Audible, check the weather, rent a Lime scooter, create a hotspot, join a Zoom meeting during your commute, view your work calendar, or find an unfamiliar address? The amount of time spent trying to replicate the convenient aspects of a smartphone can make it feel like the basic phone is more of a hindrance than a help.

I also remembered how easy it was to replace my smartphone with another form of distraction: streaming media. Without some willpower to resist distraction (whether in the form of smartphones, TV shows, sports, or other), trying to abandon my smartphone for a basic phone was a losing battle. I could simply substitute the smartphone’s distraction with something else, and did. So the Light Phone probably wouldn’t solve my problems, I reasoned.

I realized that finding the right balance (whether using a basic phone, smartphone, or some stripped-down middle-ground) was a learning process. After realizing that I’d resumed too many bad practices with my smartphone, I course-corrected a bit, trying to find a better middle ground. I disabled Chrome and Gmail, for starters. With this change, I stopped checking my email frequently—and more importantly, I stopped thinking about my email. One morning I woke up, walked down the stairs to my computer, and worked on a post for an hour without thinking to check email. (Normally it was the first thing I checked upon waking.)

I also started doubling down on my bedroom technology use: no more bringing my laptop or smartphone to my bed, which only prompted me to get hooked on TV shows. Instead, I brought in a book. Reading it for 30 minutes put my mind into a slumber. And the more I read, the more progress I made in books. And that progress gave me more momentum to keep reading. It didn’t take long before I found myself once more thinking about the ideas in books rather than a TV show or email. (Our brain really is plastic and can be reshaped within a few weeks.)

In trying to restore the balance of technology use, I didn’t realize how delicate my rules were. Simply having the ability to check email and news on my phone seemed enough to imprison me again (was it the Dopamine hit during a time of boredom?). Removing those apps lifted the burden and prompted me to do more reading. My smartphone mostly sat on my desk, like an ominous Pandora’s box. Without the apps, I had neutered it.

I did find myself looking at my smartphone now and then and wondering what the device was for. It was obviously underperforming its capability, like having a Lamborghini that you used only to drive to the mailbox and back. But just as with any sports car, could you really drive it without occasionally accelerating past the speed limit?

Did I achieve the end goal of the experiment?

I related the above only to be realistic and honest about my relationship with the smartphone and technology. It’s not as if one can easily walk away, form a Luddite club, and get immersed in the classics for ever more. Life is more complicated, especially if one works in tech and has family and friends with smartphones. The only feasible path, in my experience, is to find a way to neutralize the addictive elements of the smartphone.

For me, this meant disabling email and news mechanisms. (Almost no one is addicted to checking the weather on their phones, or setting alarms all day.) I’ve never been much of an Instagram or Facebook user, and Twitter lost its appeal long before Elon Musk took over. Each person has their own kryptonite, so what might be Instagram for one person (like Logan Lane in the Luddite Club) could be a news or email app for another. (My kids check their email once a week, if that.) By neutralizing my phone, I figuratively moved away from it while still interacting and participating in modern life and maintaining social relationships.

Overall achievements

Despite the ups and downs of my experiment in moving away from smartphones, I achieved and learned so much through this series. In this final section, I’ll wrap it up and form a conclusion about it all.

In My initial rules and reasons for intentional smartphone use, I listed these goals for my experiment

What do I hope to achieve by removing smartphones?

  • Long-form attention to read a book without my mind wandering
  • Sleep through the night without randomly waking early
  • Have more mental energy in the evenings
  • Get into periods of flow and become more productive at work
  • Have more peace of mind
  • Have more realizations from reflection
  • Be more present with other people

Definitely, both literally and figuratively abandoning my smartphone has achieved every one of these goals. I won’t go through each one in detail, but overall, it’s a resounding yes. Instead of commenting on each of these high-level goals, I’ll call out more concrete highlights from the series.

Productivity

Of all the techniques for productivity, the 90-minute focus sessions worked the best for me. I’m still amazed by how much I can accomplish in 90 minutes when I focus on a task, not being pulled away into anything else. I even sometimes measure out work by the number of 90-minute focus sessions I think the task will take.

Although it can be hard to focus for that long, I’m in love with the productivity outcomes, the ability to knock out a big documentation project seemingly in a week, or to write a lengthy article in a single session. The productivity method makes me think I can accomplish nearly any amount of work.

The technique has some tradeoffs, such as ignoring the world around me for a bit. But if I wait to check email and other sites between focus sessions only, the method works. Ninety minutes is enough to get some serious velocity going. The only drawback is that if I only have 30 minutes of time until a meeting, I sometimes feel that starting a focus session isn’t worthwhile. And it is still hard not to check email, chat, and time-wasting sites as a break from the task.

Reading

Reading! If there’s one major reward for neutralizing my smartphone, it’s the return to reading. I don’t remember reading so many books in my life, not since college. The smartphones and Internet have prompted a gradual, incremental transition from reading print to online media. At some point during the past 20 years, books became something I stopped consuming (except for audiobooks while commuting).

In returning to books, I realized that I love reading. A good book can change my perspective in transformational ways. Reading feels enriching, soothes my brain waves, helps me understand topics at deeper levels, and makes me more informed, especially when I write.

I’ve learned that for me, print books are superior to anything on a screen. This might be due partly to my declining eyesight. (I now carry two sets of glasses—one for driving, one for computers.) But I also like annotating books with a pen as I read. It makes me feel like an active, engaged reader. I’ve grown accustomed to reading each morning while sipping a caramel latte (my espresso favorite). Strangely, sipping a latte, wearing a cardigan, and reading a print book doesn’t feel cliche, as everyone else is staring at their smartphone screens.

At work, I’ve been running a book club focused on the automotive and transportation industry. I’m also reading long documents at my work (whether product requirements, engineering designs, or other documents that others usually just glance at). Yes, I print them out and have a stapler at my desk. Recently, a neighboring engineer heard the sound of a stapler and perked up, noting that he hadn’t heard the sound of a stapler for years. I now make a point of stapling things proudly.

Writing

I learned that writing is a conversation with the texts I’m reading. Previously, I approached writing primarily by following a technique of asking 20 questions about the topic and trying to answer them—going through this round of questioning multiple times. While this brainstorming technique still worked, it wasn’t as powerful as finding a relevant author to read and then summarizing, commenting, and building off of the author’s ideas. Writing is a conversation you’re having with other authors.

Writing is also an experience in living. In my view, it makes little sense to explore a topic that doesn’t matter deeply to me, and which doesn’t involve incorporating any changes into my life. In the books I read, I like to see the author personally invested, trying things out, experimenting with changes. Although essays are good reads, when the author injects personal experience and brings me on a personal quest (like Johann Hari did in Stolen Focus), it makes the writing more engaging.

This approach of balancing ideas from authors with my own personal experience was perhaps the only way to compensate for my lack of scholarly expertise about topics. I might not know every study that’s been done, but when I brought my own life experiments to the table, this sense of active living and experimenting seemed to add authenticity and intrigue to the content.

On a more practical level, I also realized one technique that worked well for documentation projects: alternating modes between reading and writing. I often devoted one focus session to reading and gathering nuggets of information. Then I devoted the next focus session to smoothing out and integrating the information. This switching back and forth between reading and writing made creating documentation a lot easier. As a result, I could more easily sustain the 90-minute focus sessions and go about writing projects more effortlessly.

Television

During this series, I realized that streaming media (Hulu, Netflix, etc.) can take the place of a smartphone. Although we’ve all heard the advice of not taking devices into the bedroom (to promote good sleep hygiene), I had previously ignored that advice. I learned that the advice should be followed. The more I propped my laptop on my chest as I reclined on my bed, the fewer books I read, and the later I stayed up. Staying up later meant getting worse sleep the next morning, which then led to more caffeine and more distractibility. (At one point I even got “caffeinism” and learned to limit my coffee intake more.)

Watching TV in the family room (rather than on a personal laptop in bed) also promoted TV as a social experience with other family members. The TV brought us together on the couch as we commented and interacted about a show. Even a bad TV show could be fun to watch with the right people. For example, I recently watched “Business Proposal,” a Korean drama, with one of my daughters who wants to be an exchange student in Japan, and it was fun to see her excitement and point of view about the content. If I watched the show alone, I wouldn’t have found it nearly as interesting.

I also replaced the phone-as-alarm-clock model in my bedroom. I loved the old-school 1980s GE alarm clock that I purchased (which you can now only buy on eBay). The idea of putting a screen-based digital assistant (Alexa Show or similar) on my nightstand seems counterintuitive to a device-free bedroom. I like looking at the red numbers on my old-school alarm clock, its only real function is to make an alarm sound (or play bad FM radio). My old-school alarm clock is a constant reminder of my childhood and the days before the Internet.

That said, because my phone is no longer a tool for distraction, it can also function as an alarm. There’s nothing that draws me to stare at it beyond checking the weather or my calendar for the day.

Wayfinding

Wayfinding also proved to be a breakthrough for me this year. As I learned to navigate without any GPS navigation apps (at least around my home city), I figured out where things are located! I know it sounds trivial, but it felt so good to be fully focused and immersed on the road rather than subject to the micro directions of my smartphone’s robot voice. I learned (more or less) the logic of avenues versus streets, the numbering schemes, and the main connecting roads and highways. Having a mental map of the roads helped me feel more comfortable and certain as I drove. I didn’t anticipate how good it would feel to know where I was going, without relying on a GPS app.

I still use my phone for podcasts and music, but I try to avoid using GPS as much as I can for local routes, recognizing that if I navigate on my own, the route sticks in my mind much better. For trips outside of my home area, or emergencies or other spontaneous needs, or if I simply get lost, I open up the app, but not if I can help it.

I thought I would navigate via paper maps (and bought a handful), but not really. I usually just study the route ahead of time on Google Maps on my laptop and sometimes make a few notes on paper.mFor 20 years of marriage, my wife has made fun of my navigational impairment. Not so much anymore! Sometimes I raise an eyebrow when I see her type in a direction on her map that I know how to get to.

Did the navigational certitude give way to increased memory for episodic events? I didn’t have too many moments of brain fog, but I never tried to measure my memory skills. Given how much time we spend driving, though, making the switch away from GPS navigation apps proved more fulfilling than I initially thought. It was an easy way to push back against automation and get my brain’s wayfinding gears turning.

Cyber skepticism

With my smartphone experiment, I also realized that I was more of a cyberskeptic than I realized. Throughout my 20-year career in tech, I had always been excited to work on the frontiers of tech, seeing new technologies and applications as the next step forward. I was always a gadget/device person, someone who esteemed innovation and who frequently geeked out with some new website approach (for example, Docs as Code).

This year, my enthusiasm for tech waned a bit. I started to realize that I longed to revert to a world before smartphones. I didn’t become a hardcore cyberskeptic (for example, I still can’t stomach Zuboff’s Surveillance Capitalism, and I kind of don’t mind being tracked), but I’m long past the idea that all tech is beneficial. So much of social media can be toxic, proliferating the amount of extremism, disinformation, and division online. It can lead to wacky conspiracy theorists (Q, R) attracting an astounding number of followers, and family members can become divided by “red” vs. “blue” teams. The list could go on. Perhaps more subtle, social media traps us in a world of superficiality.

I’m not sure how long I’ll stay in cyberskeptic mode. I no longer foresee purchasing more digital assistants. The impact of the internet is still overwhelmingly positive, in my view. It has given me a space to write and publish, and an audience. It also opened up infinite resources for knowledge consumption. Many other technologies (including Google Maps, which I explore all the time on my computer) have opened up new possibilities to explore the spaces around me. But more and more, I’m learning to be more discerning about which technology to adopt and how to incorporate it.

Years earlier, tech seemed so innocent, so positive. Earlier in my career, I had adopted more of a “Whig mentality of history,” as Krinnock and Hoff say in May I Ask a Technical Question. This mentality assumes all technological innovation leads to progress. Not so anymore. The way smartphones suck everyone’s attention at any spare moment is startling. If someone had been transported from the 1980s to the present and observed how ubiquitous and attention-demanding smartphones are, they would be shocked. (Incrementalism obscures social change.)

I see the cyberskeptic narrative strengthening in other texts I read as well. For example, in Paris Marx’s Road to Nowhere: What Silicon Valley Gets Wrong about the Future of Transportation, Marx upends the narrative that technology companies try to tell about the world: that they’re using technology to solve big challenges in the world, such as transportation. However, ride-sharing apps, autonomous vehicles, underground tunnels, and so on are not actually reducing congestion and unlocking mobility; they’re just increasing congestion and reinforcing the automobile as an essential and unavoidable transportation expense, to the benefit of corporate profits.

The most excoriating section of Marx’s book is about Uber. While Uber sells a story about ease of mobility, reduced congestion, and additional incomes for drivers, it turns out that Uber achieves none of this. Their lower prices are predatory prices to get rid of taxis, after which their prices increase. They detract ridership from public transportation while increasing congestion due to deadheading (roving without passengers). In short, they make transportation worse for most people while expanding transportation opportunities for tech elites. Why have we swallowed this ride-hailing tech innovation? Marx writes:

We were taught to believe that technology solutions alone could address difficult problems, and users and journalists bought the story Kalanick was selling. (94)

The story of Uber demonstrates the continued relevance of the Californian Ideology. … But despite all the bold claims about its transformative potential, Uber ultimately served an insidious agenda that harmed workers and the public while increasing corporate power. … Sadly, that is not just Uber’s story, but the reality of so many of the tech industry’s ideas for the future of transportation and cities. More technology and regulatory rollbacks to not solve fundamentally political problems; they just allow wealth, powerful people to impose their will on everyone else. (113)

The idea that tech can transform transportation and solve other problems, independent of political and policy change, seems more and more naive. More often, a profit-based capitalist agenda drives the effort.

As a partial cyberskeptic, I sometimes wonder about the value of the documentation I produce at the companies I work for. Would the world be better off without the work I do today? I’d never asked that before. One passage in Johann Hari’s Stolen Focus book especially haunts me. Hari writes:

One day, James Williams—the former Google strategist I met—addressed an audience of hundreds of leading tech designers and asked them a simple question: “How many of you want to live in the world you are designing?” There was a silence in the room. People looked around them. Nobody put up their hand.

In conversations with my kids, they likewise fantasize about living during a time before the internet. Then sometimes we watch a show filmed in the 80s or early 90s, and that nostalgia fades.

Despite the cognitive dissonance of working for big tech, I also marvel to see what new wonders technology might introduce, such as with generative AI. Despite having reservations about where technology takes us, I’m not a full cyberskeptic. I’m more in the middle between cyberskeptic and cyber-optimist, which gives me a great vantage point as a writer.

Camera

I haven’t written much about using a regular camera instead of my smartphone camera. Part of my plan in initially abandoning my smartphone was to figure out how to take pictures sans the smartphone camera. Although I experimented briefly with a compact point-and-shoot, I ended up returning it due to poor image quality.

However, during the year I volunteered as a team photographer for my daughter’s soccer club. I dusted off an old Nikon D60 DSLR (bought as a wedding anniversary gift for my wife more than a decade ago), upgraded it with a 55-118mm zoom lens, learned a bit about shutter speeds and aperture, and started taking action photos at almost every soccer game. It was a lot of fun, actually.

In doing sports photography, which almost invariably requires a zoom lens and control over your shutter speed, I had to relearn some photography skills that had been latent since my days as a yearbook photographer during high school (back in 1993!). I sometimes think that I should take up photography as a hobby more actively. But for stills that don’t involve zooming, smartphone cameras are comparable if not better (at least compared to my D60 and skill level). I love taking pictures of an area that I explore and then posting them as reviews on Google Maps.

News

I still struggle with the news. Ever since reading Rolf Dobelli’s Stop Reading the News, I’ve been much more aware of the negativity bias of news. Another problem is that reading the news pulls me online, and once online, invites me to click elsewhere, making news more of a “gateway drug.” But when I stopped reading the news, I felt disconnected from global events, curious to know what was going on. So I started glancing through the New York Times summaries.

The problem with glancing through daily news summaries is that I don’t want play-by-play summaries of breaking news but rather more general summaries of what’s going on at a higher level, which I can consume at a less regular cadence. I also want to read it offline. I once experimented with a print subscription to the _New York Times _but then realized that I didn’t want to feel compelled to read a massive paper every day. Each newspaper has nearly a book’s worth of information and can take at least an hour to get through, even when skimming.

Recently I decided to get a print subscription to The Week, hoping it would be a way of batching my news reading to a lazy weekend hour offline. I wasn’t looking for in-depth reporting to explore all sides of an issue; I mostly wanted the gist of what’s going on, consolidated into a weekly publication and easily digestible offline format. And I hoped that reading offline would make me less prone to wandering online.

However, I found The Week to be too tabloid-like. The high-level news summaries lacked insight and reading appeal. Perhaps this is ultimately beneficial to me, as I don’t want to be pulled into the news anyway.

Revisiting my rules

In this series, I listed various technology rules that I would follow, which is what Cal Newport recommends. The technology rules we make for ourselves require constant refinement until we get to the right mix of technology use. I started out with a strict set of initial rules only to modify them later on. Below, I’ll provide yet another iteration. I suspect in a few months, I’ll make more adjustments.

Also, remember that what might work for one person might not make sense for another. My rules fit me, based on those apps that are my kryptonite, based on my social needs with my family, and my work. Here are my latest rules:

  1. Using a smartphone (instead of a basic phone) is all right as long as the distracting elements are neutralized. For example, remove news, social media, and sports apps. Also, disable Chrome and Gmail (both work and personal versions).
  2. Don’t take smartphones or laptops into bed (to view streaming media). Take a book instead.
  3. Try to keep the phone in Do Not Disturb mode—disable app notifications and phone calls except for family and calendar apps. Same with email and chat notifications on desktop—mute them.
  4. Get your primary news offline rather than online.
  5. Keep your email inbox light by unsubscribing to almost everything.
  6. Don’t rely on mapping applications when driving if you can help it. Learn the logic of the streets. (GPS can, however, be a tool if you’re actively learning and exploring new areas.)
  7. Avoid using social media as entertainment. You can check it every so often to gather information, but generally, it’s not worthwhile to consume social media as entertainment.
  8. Approach tasks in 90-minute pomodoros. During the 90 minutes, don’t get pulled into distractions (such as email or news).
  9. To switch into TPN mode, do the task for 5 minutes. Then alternate back and forth until your TPN engine is fully warmed up and you no longer need the timer.
  10. Read print books regularly and voraciously. Reading is key to providing the fodder for writing—both reading and writing fuel each other.

The process is an ongoing refinement about what works and what does not, taking the best of what new tech offers and toning down the bad.

Throughout this series, I’ve quoted and commented on many of the following books. If you’re interested in continuing this theme, I recommend reading the following:

  • Stolen Focus, by Johan Hari
  • Stop Reading the News, by Rolf Dobelli
  • Digital Minimalism, by Cal Newport
  • Deep Work, by Cal Newport
  • Wayfinding, by O’Connor, M. R.
  • What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains: The Shallows, by Nicholas Carr
  • What Technology Wants, by Kevin Kelly
  • Flow, by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
  • ADHD 2.0, by Ed Hallowell and John Ratey

You will find that there’s an abundance of books written about the themes I’ve touched upon. My experience isn’t singular but one that many have been struggling with, from the Romantics with the Industrial Age to now.

References

Krinnock, Jeff and Matt Hoff. May I Ask a Technical Question? Questions about digital reliability each of us should ask. 2016 Jeff Krinnock and Matt Hoff.

Marx, Paris. Road to Nowhere: What Silicon Valley Gets Wrong about the Future of Transportation. Verso Books, 2022.

Vadukul, Alex. “‘Luddite’ Teens Don’t Want Your Likes.” The New York Times. 15 Dec 2022. https://www.nytimes.com/2022/12/15/style/teens-social-media.html

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About Tom Johnson

Tom Johnson

I'm a technical writer / API doc specialist based in the Seattle area. In this blog, I write about topics related to technical writing and communication — such as software documentation, API documentation, visual communication, information architecture, writing techniques, plain language, tech comm careers, and more. Check out simplifying complexity and API documentation for some deep dives into these topics. If you're a technical writer and want to keep on top of the latest trends in the field, be sure to subscribe to email updates. You can also learn more about me or contact me.

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