Thursday, February 16, 2017

On the Value of Going Old School

This week has been an odd one for me regarding technology.

I was researching an article about certain kinds of tech, and I started looking into fitness watches. You know: those strap-on devices that only incidentally tell time; their real purpose is to count your steps, use GPS to track the route you walk or run or bike, and maybe even gather certain biometric data like heart rate.  I have to admit they are cool, and there's part of me that wants one.

A couple of days later, I was in a conversation with some college instructors who were admitting to going old school.  One, like me, uses a paper planner. Another uses a traditional, paper grade book. For these instructors (and for me), there are certain kinds of information that we find most accessible and easiest to manage by using a pencil and paper.

It got me to thinking about the role that technology plays in our lives. I like to think that I'm not a technical Luddite; the other day, I posted a picture to Facebook of my office, in which I had no fewer than four screens spread across three computing devices open, active, and in use. My favorite device right now is my iPad mini, which has replaced a laptop in a lot of situations for me.

But, for other things, I like to go old school. I like my paper planner; I can't quite get the same grasp on the cycle of my day and my to-do list by flipping back and forth between apps on my phone. My all-time favorite laptop replacement, which I have written about before, was my AlphaSmart; sadly, I can no longer get it to sync with any of my more modern devices, meaning I cannot write on it and extract what I have written. I've been thinking fondly of the days when your cell phone could make and receive calls, maybe do some very clunky texting, and play a game or two, instead of operating as a mobile office, productivity suite, and entertainment center that costs several hundred dollars and which you are terrified of losing or breaking.

Technology is great. If we were to completely eschew technology and took this to extremes, we would not have the wheel, the loom, or the most basic of knives. Technological progression helps us move forward as a species.

But sometimes, technology leads us instead of us leading technology. What good is a productivity device if you spend all of the time you have saved reworking your work flow and buying new connectors, adapters, and chargers that fit an ever-changing array of devices. For example, I have "solved" the problem of how to work on an airplane and on vacation no fewer than six times over the past 20 years, and every time devices change, I have to rethink my preferred solution.

I don't know the answer, but maybe the next time I go on vacation, I'll take a legal pad and a few pencils. They'll work anywhere, they never lose their charge, and I don't have to worry (much) about them being stolen. And, my writing always was better when it occurred at the pace dictated by my own hand and when I edited it while I typed up the final version.
Pin It!

No comments :

Post a Comment