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Would You Pay to Block Your Own Internet Connection?


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Fred Stutzman

Carnegie Mellon University researcher Fred Stutzman

Credit: New Scientist

Carnegie Mellon University researcher Fred Stutzman has developed productivity apps designed to maintain workers' focus on tasks and prevent them from being distracted by the Web and social media.

"I thought it would be an interesting idea to develop something that would cut off the Internet," he says. "If you can't get to the distracting sites and videos, you are forced to work."

One app, Freedom, locks users out of their Internet connection for a set time and cannot be bypassed without rebooting the system. Another app, Anti-Social, bars social networks and other distracting Web sites. Stutzman says more than 300,000 people have downloaded Freedom thus far, while 125,000 have downloaded Anti-Social.

"One of the main reasons people use Freedom is pretty utilitarian--to actually get work done--but I think it does reflect this larger trend of people wanting to disconnect and have a little time to themselves," he observes.

Stutzman notes the apps seek to address people's social nature, which social media and similar tools appeal to. "I don't think we had the willpower or the inherent skills to deal with this hot, rich media in the first place," he argues.

From New Scientist 
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