To read The Disconnect, you have to turn off the internet
August 19, 2018 7:00 PM   Subscribe

Chris Bolin expanded upon his "little experiment" of his offline-only webpage (discussed previously) and developed The Disconnect. When you first try to read an issue, you are greeted by what looks like the cover of a regular online magazine, but over top of it is a pink banner that says: “Please disconnect from the Internet. This is an offline-only magazine of commentary, fiction, and poetry.” The request to disconnect is mostly designed to make a point (Columbia Journalism Review). “I guess it’s kind of like a paywall,” Bolin says. “But it’s more of a pay-attention wall.”

More from CJR:
So how does a user get access to the magazine if they’re no longer online? All of the content is downloaded when a user first visits the site, but is blocked from view until the browser says it is no longer connected. The entire magazine is only about 250 kilobytes in size (about the size of a single small photo), because there are few images and no advertisements.

Bolin says he would like to broaden the range of content in the magazine by commissioning non-fiction for future issues, but first he has to come up with a way to pay writers. All of the content for the first issue was provided free of charge, either by people he knew already or in response to an open call for submissions that he made on Twitter.
Here's the table of contents from the first two issues:

Issue One - Winter 2018 (Bolin's twitter thread linking thanking contributors)
Rescue (Cover Story) - Brian Mihok
Thomas Edison’s Blue Bird - Kate LaDew
Online Remains - Alex Austin
Freight - Jen Knox
Uptime - Aaron Anderson

Escape: The Next Digital Divide - Alex Beattie
151 Letters from Oxford - Jessica Lipnack
Terra Incognita - Lucy Bellwood [bonus: thoughts on this piece]

Silence - Kezia Sullivan
GPS - Amlanjyoti Goswami
Predictive Identity - Michael Moran
Intrepid - Alan S. Brown
Surrounded by the Enemy - Ericc Emerson

Letter from the Editor - Chris Bolin
Cover Illustration - Jacob Halton
About The Disconnect

Created by Chris Bolin. Edited by Clayton d’Arnault.
Issue Two - Summer 2018
Cover: This is Your Digital Fingerprint - Nick Briz and Clayton d'Arnault

Feature: The Banality of (Prison) Email - Ingrid Burrington
This is Your Digital Fingerprint - Nick Briz and Clayton d'Arnault
Rethinking Digitality with Nathan Jurgenson - The Editors
Review: Stand out of our Light by James Williams - Alex Beattie

Overdue - Dave Ring
Cudaben - Emily Dieckman
Last Lovers on Mars - Kendall Pack

Rules for Stargazing - Lilian Caylee Wang
The Foot Of The Blue Mesa - Robert Lietz
The Porch - Kelly Dolejsi
Trilogy of Modern Technology - Yuan Changming
Cenotaph - Elizabeth Johnston

This Issue’s Sponsor: Mozilla
About The Disconnect
You can also follow The Disconnect on Twitter to learn about their next issue and read snippets of the stories and poems while still online.
posted by filthy light thief (10 comments total) 32 users marked this as a favorite
Brilliant concept.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 9:13 PM on August 19, 2018

(although honestly my net nanny does a much nicer job)
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 9:19 PM on August 19, 2018

This is the sort of thing where the idea is inherently more interesting than the actual execution.

And the idea is not that interesting.
posted by MartinWisse at 2:02 AM on August 20, 2018 [6 favorites]

From their "digital footprint" article:

In 2015, at least 90% of Americans reported that privacy is “very important” to them, according to a survey by the Pew Research Center. For this reason, savvy internet users install ad-blockers to ward off malicious cookies...

Gosh, all this time I thought that people installed ad blockers to block annoying ads, and maybe malware. I learned something new!

(I stopped reading the article at that point - my brain can't handle learning too much new stuff in one day.)
posted by Umami Dearest at 5:48 AM on August 20, 2018 [1 favorite]

I wonder what extension I'm running is defeating the check for offlinehood.
posted by Obscure Reference at 5:56 AM on August 20, 2018

This is the sort of thing where the idea is inherently more interesting than the actual execution.

And the idea is not that interesting.

I think it's more useful and impressive for certain people, like myself, who find it hard to focus on one thing at a time for any length of time (I write as I should finish review of a 7 page outline ;P ), and Chris Bolin sounds like a kindred distracted spirit. And technically, it's pretty neat (in my non-technically adept opinion). Loading everything while online to allow you to read it all offline is pretty spiffy, especially as I commute through an area where cell service is spotty at best.

I wonder what extension I'm running is defeating the check for offlinehood.

Something about javascript blocking or limiting, perhaps? I tried my darnedest to read the site while staying online by tweaking settings in Firefox and IE, but to no luck. The best I got was toggling reader view (F9), which only works to clear off the obscured previews.

But just now I tried using Web Developer > Work Offline mode, which didn't work on my personal laptop, but it works here! So if you're on a desktop computer with a physical internet connection and can't turn on Airplane mode, that might work for you.
posted by filthy light thief at 9:40 AM on August 20, 2018 [1 favorite]

the browser fires an 'onoffline' event when the internet is disconnected. navigator.onLine is the property used to determine whether the browser is online or offline.

to override the browser property, type following in console

Object.defineProperty(window.navigator, 'onLine', {value: false});

This will make navigator.onLine always return 'false'.

To trigger the onoffline event, do:

var event = new Event('offline');

(I once had to fix a bug where there was no indication to the user if our... web application... was disconnected from the internet. The subsequent followup bug was "alert dialog displays placeholder image instead of caution when offline dialog is displayed (you know, because it's not on the internet so it can't download the image." Fuck QA)
posted by Veritron at 9:47 AM on August 20, 2018 [1 favorite]

That actually makes sense, filthy light thief.
posted by MartinWisse at 9:47 AM on August 20, 2018

The internet goes out sometimes at work. More than once I've found myself wishing I had a cached fanfiction or something to peruse while waiting to be able to work again. This isn't the intention of the magazine, but it works for that purpose in a way.
posted by GoblinHoney at 2:39 PM on August 20, 2018

GoblinHoney, if you were only closer to Keepalive, the fire-initiated Wi-Fi-enabled library ... in a rock.
posted by filthy light thief at 2:54 PM on August 20, 2018

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