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Jose Antonio Vargas

Jose Antonio Vargas

Posted: October 6, 2009 07:00 AM

How We Unplug

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Sometimes, we just need to unplug.

No firing off text messages. No updating Facebook profiles. No browsing Craigslist or Yelp or whatever-hot-new-site is trending on Twitter. No compulsively -- okay, obsessively -- thumbing through iPhones, BlackBerries and Androids. Yes, technology is all around us -- in our pockets, on our beds, constant, clickable companions. And, yes, it's all moving at such warp speed (have you heard? foursquare is the new Twitter!) that we can't help but try and keep up.

Still, there's a reason why most everything technological has an off button. So in honor of "In Praise of Slowness: How a Worldwide Movement is Challenging the Cult of Speed," Arianna's inaugural book club pick, we asked some of the world's most notable techies to tell HuffPostTech how they slow down. That is, when they do slow down.

Craig Newmark, founder of Craigslist (and the online classified hub's customer service representative):

It's hard to get me offline, since I'm doing periodic customer service from roughly 8 a.m. to maybe 10 p.m. or later . . .Offline, I'm probably meeting friends, maybe at Reverie Cafe in [San Francisco] or otherwise reading or watching TV. I read about a book per week or so, mostly genre stuff, and there's some TV I like a lot.

Biz Stone, co-founder and creative director of Twitter:

I usually run, paint, or help Livy [Livia, his wife, a self-described "wildlife rehabber"] -- sometimes I go with her when she releases a wild animal she has rehabilitated back to health.

Chris Hughes, co-founder of Facebook and the architect behind My.BarackObama:

I read a good deal of fiction and non-fiction, watch independent movies, eat big time, and hike when I can.

Jeremy Stoppelman, co-founder and CEO of Yelp:

Nothing is better than my weekend solitary runs, with thumping house tunes, dog Darwin at my side, and a breathtaking view of the Golden Gate.

Markos Moulitsas, founder of Daily Kos:

I used to never unplug. But my New Year's resolution last year was to find better balance, and I've succeeded. When I'm off the grid, I'm either on my bike (I ride 150-200 miles a week), or I'm spending time with my family. My kids seem to enjoy it when I close the lid of my laptop. I'm also a classical pianist and composer, and while that part of my life sagged the last few years as work took over my life, even that's making a comeback as of late.

Dennis Crowley, co-founder of foursquare, a location-based social networking site:

I snowboard -- as many days a possible. Usually at Mount Snow, in Vermont, though we try to take at least one West Coast trip once a year (Whistler, Jackson Hole, Park City).

Henry Jenkins, formerly of co-director of MIT's Comparative Media Studies and now professor of journalism and cinema at the University of Southern California:

For most of my life, we had a cabin in the North Georgia mountains where I could go to swim and hike and get away from the world. We sold the cabin a few years ago and I have not found a similar retreat yet. I do still swim every morning -- there's a pool on the roof of our building -- and I do still like to go on walks. Some years ago, I instituted walking office hours so that I could have uninterupted time with my students and staff.

Peter Rojas, co-founder of gdgt, a social networking site for gadgets:

I may be in the minority here, but I don't feel like my life is moving too quickly for me, so don't ever feel like I need to slow down! Not that I'm not busy, just that I have a lot of control over what I do and when I do it.

Though if you just mean, 'What do you do when you're not at a computer?', I suppose the answer would be to do stuff everyone else does: spend time with my son, read books, have lunch with friends, cook, etc. I feel pretty lucky to have a life that feels pretty well-balanced right now.

David Weinberger, co-author of "The Cluetrain Manifesto," often referred to as a "primer on Internet marketing":

Oy? No computer at all? So computer games and hobbyist computer programming don't count? How about long walks in the woods, then? Kidding! I am insanely boring. I watch TV. I read. And after 40 years of jogging, I remain startlingly out of shape. (I am a totally pathetic jogger: not much faster than walking, and a 3.5 mile capacity.) The truth is that I'd rather be connected than not.

So how do you unplug? Tell us in the comments below.

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