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Patrick Stevens

Former mathematics student at the University of Cambridge; now a software engineer.

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I am shortly to receive a new Nexus 5. I am determined not to become a smartphone zombie, and so I hereby commit to the following Charter.

  • I will keep my phone free of social networking apps, and I will ensure that I do not know the passwords to access their web interfaces. While they can be really quite handy, they are usually simply a distraction. People are used to the fact that I am present on the Internet only when I have my computer with me; there’s no need for that to change.
  • I will only look at text messages when I’m not talking to someone already.
  • I will never look at reddit or Hacker News or suchlike on my phone, unless there is no-one else around. Similarly, I will not access my news feeds from my phone. It’s far too easy to waste time and attention on them, when such attention is expected from the people I’m with.
  • If I am doing something on my phone, and someone asks me to stop, I will do one of the following (with number 1 being heavily preferred, and number 3 only in emergency):
    1. I will stop using my phone within ten seconds
    2. I will explain what I am doing, and ask permission to continue
    3. I will explain what I am doing (or say that an explanation will be forthcoming as soon as possible), and continue.
  • I will keep my phone out of reach of my bed when I go to sleep. It’s easy to become lost in the Internet, especially when you’re tired and not really concentrating.
  • I will be able to access emails on my phone, but I will set it up so that it only checks manually.
  • I will not install games on my phone. It’s not there as “something to keep me entertained when I’m bored” but as “something to be useful when needed”, and in my experience, games seem to intrude.

If I break any of these, you’re allowed to get annoyed with me. (The converse is false in general.)