This Website Only Works When You’re Offline
Everybody’s gotta log off sometime.
Immagine: Chris Bolin
Turn off your internet connection for a moment and observe how you feel. Slightly panicked that you're missing something? Cut off from the rest of the world? It's like taking a deep breath and holding it in. Finally switch your WiFi back on, see the bars light up, and exhale.
That's the sensation Chris Bolin, software engineer at Formidable, experiments with using his website that's only accessible offline.
While connected to WiFi, it displays a notice that this site only works when you're disconnected. Turn off your WiFi, and it magically displays a short message about the perils of our truncated attention spans and constant connection to glowing screens.
I asked Bolin to explain how this wizardry works. He told me over Twitter messages that your browser has the ability to notify a webpage when certain events happen: For example, whether you are "online" or "offline."
"Basically a lot of browser innovation has gone into supporting what is called "offline-first, (usually) mobile devices that have shaky internet connections," he said. "So I decided to turn it on it's head and create an 'offline-only' page." He uploaded the library on Github for anyone to check out.
It might not work on some variants of Linux and FreeBSD, older browsers, or Opera Mini, but most mainstream browsers should do the trick just fine, as long as your WiFi is turned completely off.
"I can already hear the groans: 'But I have to be online for my job.' I don't care. Make time," Bolin wrote in the offline message. "I bet the thing that makes you valuable is not your ability to Google something, but your ability to synthesize information. Do your research online, but create offline."
Bolin describes himself as an "offline advocate," even if that means disconnecting while using our technological devices. "I want to see more design with awareness of our human limitations—designs that acknowledge our fragile attention, for example."
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