Sunday September 10, 2017

Want to look at this guy's website? Go offline

How Chris Bolin's website, Offline, appears...when you're online

How Chris Bolin's website, Offline, appears...when you're online (Screenshot)

Listen 9:26

If you're used to clicking and tapping your way through countless online articles, or scrolling through endless Instagram images, winding up at Chris Bolin's website, Offline, is discombobulating.

Stark black and white text on a plain, grey background says: "You must go offline to view this page. Disconnect to continue." That's right. In order to read any more of Offline's content, you have to get off the internet.

Once you go into 'flight mode' or otherwise disconnect, up pops the text of a short essay Chris - an artist and software engineer - has written about the benefits of getting OFF the internet.

"Do you want to be productive? Just go offline," the essay reads. "To maintain a constant connection to the internet, is to maintain a constant connection to interruptions, both external and internal."

Chris Bolin

Software engineer and artist, Chris Bolin

In an interview, Chris explains his motivation. "Completely disconnecting from the internet has been a small productivity hack I've had for a couple of years," he says.

He could also see the artistic potential in creating an experience that other people could participate in. "I had someone message me just yesterday and say 'I teared up when I did this…,' he says. "As an artist and as an engineer you can't ask for anything more than that. Just to make people think a little bit differently, give them a little joy, or maybe even annoy them."

Even though he's a software engineer, a lot of his work is done offline. "I have a little regimen. I have my smartphone, and I don't disconnect from the internet on that, I just mute it and put it face down on the table," but he will disconnect his laptop, he explains.

"Then if I want to see if one of my teammates has messaged me...I can pick up my phone and look at it, but it's an intentional act. I'm opting in, as opposed to a notification...distracting me."

Sometimes people get distracted because they want to be distracted. Because the thing they're doing is hard, or they're not sure what the next step is. - Chris Bolin

As to why it's so hard to stop compulsively checking the internet, Chris says sometimes it's just "reflex and habit." But also "sometimes people get distracted because they want to be distracted," he argues. "Because the thing they're doing is hard, or they're not sure what the next step is."


Chris says that making a website you can only read in offline mode was "just an assemblage of a couple of building blocks of the internet," he says. "Browsers now have the ability to tell if you're online or offline...that's combined with a few other things."


To read the full essay, click here...then go offline.