Friday, January 12, 2018

Gray Scale

I ran across an article recently (I can't find it now, alas) that talked about an organization called "Time Well Spent."  (Here's the Wikipedia page.)  The idea of the organization is to get companies that make money by selling our attention (think facebook, for example) to realign their goals to focus on providing users with experiences that don't work against our best interests.  Well, they explain it better.

The thing is, I don't think we can convince companies to undercut the ways they make money, just as I think we aren't going to convince arms manufacturers to quit selling arms to anyone who has the money to buy them.  (Sometimes laws do that, but companies don't do it willingly.)

But, the organization also gives some ideas for making the current technology less effective at hijacking our time.

Now I admit that I check some social media type stuff a lot.  More than makes sense.  And I use it to procrastinate, though not necessarily on my phone.  (I'm far more likely to procrastinate at my computer.)  Still, they have some ideas, and a couple I'm trying.

The two I'm trying are phone specific:  one, I've changed my phone to use gray scale settings.  I'm not sure how this will affect photos, but I should check (and it's easy to change it back, of course).  Otherwise, I really don't need all the colors, and changing to gray scale is supposed to make the screen itself less appealing, and in making it less appealing, giving less subconscious incentive to just look at it.

Two, I've relocated the icons for apps I'm notorious for spending time with to procrastinate to the second page.  I don't see them when I turn on the phone, but do see the things I really want:  phone, messaging, music tuning and metronome, maps, and so forth.  It really does seem to make things less appealing.  And if I don't see the BBC icon, I don't endlessly scroll through it on the off chance that a new and exciting news story has broken and I MUST read it NOW!

During the first part of break, I put my laptop in a room that's colder than the rest of the house, and only brought it to use in the living room (where I like to sit) without its cord, so I was time-limited.  (It's a 6 year old laptop, so the battery power doesn't last for more than an hour or so.)  And not surprisingly, I wasted less time on the computer.  (But then I made the excuse that I needed to read and work on the letter for my colleague, so plugged it in where I sit in the living room, and yep, I'm wasting more time on it.)

So I need to move it back.  Right now.

I'd love a way to make the browser on the laptop show pages just in grayscale as a default, but with an easy way to change, so I can watch bike races in color (the kits are colorful and help you tell which team/rider is which, also the scenery is often beautiful).  Any ideas?


  1. On my laptop (a Mac), the accessibility preferences include the ability to make the entire screen grayscale. The system lets one assign a keyboard shortcut to the command, so if you use a Mac, or if your Windows/Linux/whatever has an analogous setting, you could do that.

  2. I found a way to do grayscale on the computer, but it's really high contrast, and uncomfortable to look at (the phone isn't uncomfortable), so I switched it back.