I'm one of those people who has trouble writing at length on my main machine, because of all the distractions it offers. Email and messaging and social networking: they all combine to form the "ludic loop" that Mark recently blogged about.
I've tried various things over the years to help keep me focused, from simple full-screen word processors such as WriteRoom and FocusWriter to gadgets like the Alphasmart and Freewrite. But apps are a tab away from fun, and glorified typewriters tend to expose their limitations in odd and frustrating ways.
After a lot of experimentation, I've arrived at a best-of-both-worlds option: proper apps running on a tiny old iMac from when Apple switched to Intel chips. It's modern enough to run good software, play music and hook up to useful services like Dropbox, but so old (and tiny) that there's not much else you can do on it except work. And it's immobile, too, so it creates a space just for that one task, which I think helps.
Even web browsing is just right: the older OS X 10.6-compatible version of Firefox it runs will access research resources well enough, but the media load on dangerously interesting sites (including Twitter and Facebook) renders them almost unusable.
There are dangers to this approach. If I were cunning I'm sure I could rebuild the ludic loop on this, by hitting the mobile versions of websites and exploring what other apps work on Snow Leopard. But its age (and adorable low-res 17" display) are so far dissuading me from trying. I'm writing more.
People keep asking about this keyboard! It's the Planck ($100 on Massdrop). I made the wrist wrest myself out of a plank, to go with those old KLH Model 19 speakers. I'm not entirely convinced the Planck is for me, but fans swear by them. I'll probably switch to something just as compact but a little more traditional, such as the MiniVan.
I'm in the midst of couple of weeks' worth of lectures, public events and teaching, and you can catch me in Toronto (for Word on the Street, Seeding Utopias and Resisting Dystopias and 6 Degrees); Newry, ME (Maine Library Association) and Portland, ME (in conversation with James Patrick Kelly).
I like to write letters. Theselokta notecards are my favorite. I usually keep a few styles of lokta paper notecards around. The butterflies are particularly lovely and encourage me to find green ink. Usually, I write with Noodler’s Heart of Darkness, and ink that is designed to stand the test of time. Lokta paper is […]
Back in the 80s, the inventor Cy Enfield created this fascinating device — a six-button “Microwriter” where you’d chord combos of buttons to produce the entire alphabet, letting you jot down notes on the go. Microsoft’s Bill Buxton calls it “the world’s first portable digital word processor” (the front-page photo for this post is from […]
Breaking into the big leagues as a project manager isn’t done overnight, but there are principles that anyone can learn, and they’re applicable to nearly any business. No matter what your field, if there are multiple teams working toward a common goal, you’re going to need a roadmap. The Project Management Professional Certification Training Suite […]
On the one hand, nostalgia is “a corruption of the historical impulse,” according to William Gibson. On the other hand, “Super Mario Bros.” will never not be cool. Luckily, there’s a way to satisfy that retro gaming while still keeping an eye on the future: The GameShell Kit. This thing is simultaneously the last handheld […]
The field of data analytics can get intimidating, even for business professionals who constantly rely on it. But at its heart, its purpose is to simplify. To take mounds of information and distill their insights into a single clear picture. Currently, the go-to software for painting that picture is Tableau. And if you want to […]