My Filofax is back! I confess, I’d let it sort of decline. Partly when I got really busy and started spending 18 instead of 16 hours online – and partly because I fell in love with my netbook and cloud computing. Still am – deeply – but they just don’t do it all for me yet.
So, all right, I go for simplicity, when it come to “to do” lists. I make lots and lots and lots of them. And I usually use .txt files made in notepad. In fact, so much am I dedicated to this that, when I use Linux, I usually install and run notepad.exe under Wine. Yes, that’s the extreme. It doesn’t stop there. I used to use mininote.exe – a tab-based notepad, so I could have more lists open at once. Before that, if you visited my house, you’d notice in all kinds of niches, and all over the dining room table, that I had piles and piles and piles of post-it notes, box covers, grocery sack fragments, and completely penned-over business cards… I could go on.
Back to .txt files. I probably have 20 or 30 in a “mess” folder of my hard drive that had just gotten so old that I tossed them into folders to be sorted through some day when I stop thinking of new things. There are probably an additional 40-100 or more that aren’t called “to do” or “immediately” and those could be anywhere in my drives. Yes, they’re backed up. Then there are all the ones I have online. Yes, there are more, and more and more. I have them in e-mail. I have them in google’s new Tasks feature. I have them in google notebook, and google docs.
[For you purists, I’m sorry, but I’ve given up capitalizing google. When it comes to the web, that would be like capitalizing the word “reality”.]
Anyway, yes there are more. There are to do lists in still other e-mail accounts, and other various online venues. There are to do lists under every screenname I have. Then there are all of the paper to-do lists that still exist from back when I wasn’t paperless. I’ve scanned all those, and they’re stored on hard drive space. The ones that aren’t in bound editions.
Yes, I’m amazing in my capacity to think of things to do. And, before anyone starts, I do quite a lot of them. More than anyone I know. And I’ve tried every online and electronic “to do” widget or environment that I can think of. But it comes down to this:
- It’s not with me while I’m driving.
- It’s not there the second I step out of the shower.
- It’s not instant, always on, with me in any setting, etc.
Netbooks are getting there. They’re the closest thing. But it’s still not fast enough, yet. It’s coming. The always-on device that’s as thin as e-paper (like a film negative) with billions of cells of resolution and becomes keyboard, screen, and mouse, all as one thin-as-2D surface with embedded storage and wirelessly connected to the cloud, where all its applications reside – it’s coming. No fan, no heat, waterproof, and a vein-like fiber battery that charges from human touch or any ordinary light source. Don’t believe me? See me in 20 years. I’ll be writing a blog post with it, on it, and about it – I’m old-fashioned like that. And mine will be the one that tucks into my Filofax, along w. the other ring-hole-punched paper in there. Now that’s a netbook!
So, thinking ahead, I’m also thinking back. What has been there for me, when even my lightening-fast, low power, ultra-portable, super-mobile netbook hasn’t been. My Filo. You see, technology is not about gadgetry, or what something can do – it’s about processes, and the meaning of things. It’s about the underlying ethos of work, human thought, and collaboration with creation that lets us extend ourselves not for the sake of extending ourselves, but so that we can see and image greater things. Gadgets are failed experiments at helping us get there. Tools – now, tools are the glorious machines that transform a Bruce Wayne into a Batman. They make us scale building, and fly between rooftops.
I don’t mind playing with gadgets. But when it comes to work, this work, the work of my life, I want tools. So, for now, the netbook is going to be paired with the Filofax (they’re roughly the same size), and I’ll just bundle them with some kind of ingenious quick-release strap. A gigolo strap for my technologies, so they can whip out their power at any moment. But I’m going to stop trying to cram the Filo into the Netbook, until it really makes sense to do so.
This helps a lot. The Filo is a ToDo list organizer for me. That’s all it is. Screw the calendars and the currency converters. Lined paper. Simple lined paper. Or graph – my father taught me a fondness for graph. It’s about purpose. The conceptual problem with every other todo list system I’ve tried, is that it’s embedded in some other kind of functionality, whether it be the machine itself or some other application. Gmail shows the most promise as the ubiquitous core-application (Google gets this fact – the core is a collaboration platform – while Microsoft still thinks the core is an Operating System [brief pause for us to collectively roll our eyes]) but even Google still can’t conceive of the right kind of todo app and how to make it really effective by pairing it inside gmail. I wish they’d hire me to conceptualize and test that. I could tell them a thing or two about todo lists and integrating them with gmail (best application in the history of applications). I wish google would understand that todo lists are, properly, closest to e-mail than anything else. A todo is an e-mail to yourself. Google hasn’t figured out how to interface that, though they’re half way there with the way they’re archiving threaded chats. Google, call me. Let’s talk.
Anyway, the Filofax. It’s now my single to-do organizer. I confess, it’ll be a real challenge while I figure out what goes in Filo, and what in notepad (e.g. links). I wish technology would hurry up. I know, some of you are wanting to scream “Blackberry”. No. Just, no. I’m sure it’s great for the occasional scribble. When it comes to the kind of volume I can churn out – someone who can send 40 e-mails in a few short minutes – those little gadgets just can’t keep up.