I will be spending the year 2020 offline as an experiment during my candidacy process for the PhD program at McGill in Montreal. I will be journaling daily and sharing highlights with friends and interested others through mail-outs twice a month. Getting physical mail allows the recipient to be a part of the internetless experience, at least in a small or symbolic way.

 

Going offline is not a protest against the internet. (I am not trying to suggest that the way to be responsible online is to abstain from jacking in.) Rather, my aim is to uncover ways that my life and world are changed without or with the internet. The research that will follow this self-study will investigate with students about how to be responsible and critical internet users. Despite focusing on challenges that the internet introduces into our world, this research comes out of a recognition that the internet is valuable and even essential for certain people, often those from marginalized communities (e.g. migrant workers trying to stay in touch with their families, or queer people in conservative environments, looking for connections and support.)

 

If you would like a copy of my bimonthly mail-outs sent to your place, please send me your address and the price of postage per the amount of bimonthly mail-outs you would like to receive. ($1.25/mail-out for Canadians, $2/mail-out to the USA, $4/mail-out to other locations.) The maximum you can request, of course, will be 24 mail-outs, twice monthly for the 12 months of 2020. You will be able to sign-up partway through the year. (One of my friends will check and let me know if new people sign-up during my offline year.) You are welcome to contribute more than the price of postage if you would like to help fund the documentary film project that will follow my internetless year and the related research I will undertake with young people about the implications of their internet use.

 

Starting soon, you will be able to sign-up and contribute for mail-outs on this site. You can also sign up by mail at 4437 Henri Julien Av, Montreal, QC, H2W-2K9.                                                

                                                                                                                  -Aron Rosenberg

 

Short-term goals:

  • Spark conversations about internet use.

  • Explore how the educational system and other institutionalized experiences are organized or coordinated for an ideal student or citizen who is digitally connected and literate in particular ways. 

  • Share ideas and analyses uncovered during this investigation through bimonthly mail-outs.

  • Enjoy a year offline.

 

Long-term goals: 

  • Help uncover the ways people’s experiences of the internet impact their lives and the world. 

  • Support educators hoping to work with young people to unpack the implications or consequences of their connectivity and build towards responsible or critical digital literacies.

  • Revise my journal entries into a book about my experiences offline. 

  • Create a collaboratively designed, filmed, and edited documentary about the experiences young people have navigating a digitally connected world.  

 

 

Acceptable exceptions:

  • I am hoping to unpack the experience of someone who is online and who cannot necessarily see how ubiquitous the internet is in their life and how this impacts them. For this objective, it would be impossible to avoid using the internet indirectly entirely. (The only way to avoid anyone using the internet as a result of my actions would be to stay in bed, for a year. And even then…) So I will draw the threshold for my experiment at simulating the experience of someone who is internet illiterate or who cannot go online for some other reason. I can’t expect someone to do something for me online but if I, for example, phone in to an airline to book a flight like someone who doesn’t know how to use the internet, it is acceptable that the person from the airline uses the internet to book my flight. 
  1. Unintentional uses (like walking into a store that’s playing music from an online streaming service) are acceptable, if I've made a reasonable effort to avoid using the internet.

  2. As people sign-up for mail-outs partway through my offline year, a friend will share the names and addresses of these people with me.