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Wednesday
Aug042004

Better Off

Better OffIn this month's Wired Magazine, I read a story about an MIT graduate who left the high tech world for a life without electricity, out in the countryside. Eric Brende is the chap who turned in his high tech lifestyle for a simple one similar to the lives the Amish / Mennonite live — low tech and off the grid.

Drawing on the experiences of living a simple life for a year with his wife, Eric has written the book Better OFF; Flipping the Switch on Technology. It appears the book is just out (or soon will be) because when I tried to request the book from the Milwaukee Public Library, it spit back an error "Object not in System".

Here's an excerpt from Eric's personal About page:

My new book, coming out from HarperCollins this August (2004), is entitled "Better OFF; Flipping the Switch on Technology." It describes the journey my wife and I have taken from the fast-paced life of high technology at MIT to a richer, more leisurely and savory existence, using our own arms, legs, and heads to perform most of the everyday tasks machines once performed for us--from washing clothes to walking to the bank or grocery store to thinking through a frugal plan of "home-economics" in a modern city. Most of the book focuses vividly on a year Mary and I spent living in the country with an Old Order Anabaptist group that I call the "Minimites," where we learned practical knacks and principles of technological selection we now apply in our urban home.

Looks very interesting indeed. I'll have to keep an eye on this book and maybe even buy it before borrowing from the library, to see Eric's insights. It's especially relevant to my thinking lately, as I have written on the topic of being in control of technology, rather than driven by it in On Keeping Technology in Perspective. I do try to manage the tech in my life, but I'm sure I could improve.

So, if you too have an interest in simplifying your life by hearing insights from a fellow techie turned low-techie for a year, Better OFF seems like it might be worth checking out.

BTW, I must express my thanks to Wired Magazine, which I have decided to continue for another year. You might recall I contemplated dropping Wired not long ago, but decided to hold on for another year, at $10.

Oddly enough though, my "loyal" subscriber rate was $12, while the new subscriber cards (you know, the pile cards that fall out of each issue) were at $10 per year. I let my old subscription lapse and sent in a $10 card instead, saving $2. :-)

Reader Comments (2)

From what I see (and again, I've not read the book), Eric's book is not about living a simply life just to see what it's like. Rather, I see it as a self-examination his own use and acceptance of technology. His examination may provide insights and act as a useful challenge to tech-saturated people (like me) to consider the tech we often take for granted.

Whether someone walks to the market because they choose to or must, seems to be another issue that this book isn't really addressing.
August 10, 2004 | Unregistered CommenterMike Rohde
Lux, point taken. BTW, I will likely be getting Eric's book from the library before I consider a purchase myself. :-)
August 18, 2004 | Unregistered CommenterMike Rohde

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