Writers and their Technology
Over the years, I've written around 10,000 blog posts, 50,000 tweets, and enough Powerpoint presentations to publish a 300-page textbook. I can't say technology has interfered with the processes behind that writing but I have evolved a writing practise that changes every two years. Although I still use the Moleskine and digital dictaphone shown in the photo, I'm tapping on gorilla glass more than ever before.
Nowadays, I stash more thoughts into a synchronised pool of information and I try to tag the content and give the different bits some context in order to facilitate digital discovery. That is, I want to be found years from now by my grandchildren. So I'm putting different written by-products into various containers to preserve their standing. I'm also walking pathways into physical media that should preserve my thoughts well into the next century.
I have friends who get stumped by the technology involved because they cannot slot things into digital time capsules without coming to grips with technology. Some are very creative writers. They think primarily about expression, language, narrative and technique. They need to act swiftly when feeling the impulse to write something new. And unlike me, they wouldn't revert to technology to work with their eureka moments.
I have some things that have worked well during the past year and would like to share them with readers.
Using what's in my pocket.
For years, I would write with what I carried in my hands or in my bag. Now I write with things on my phones. I really like drafting things on my iTouch and seeing those drafts on the Typepad server. That's how this blog post came to fruition. I tapped some thoughts on the iTouch, reviewed them on the little screen and edited them on a laptop before publishing them onto my blog.
Using what's connected.
Another easy touchpoint in my pocket is Simplenote. I've used it long enough with Scrivener to know that I can work with notes created or revised on my Nokia Lumia, iTouch and iPad. Simplenote syncs those notes to a cloud server and exposes them on each of the phones. It's remarkable synchronicity. Stuff I do on one handset doesn't get lost in between retrieving it on another handset.
I talk to myself on Evernote.
I walk our one-year-old son in his stroller and often pause podcasts or spend a minute or two standing clear of pathways to record an audio note. Evernote keeps those audio and tapped notes on the iTouch, the Lumia or Xperia phone. In my experience, Evernote handles sync better than any other service I have used. It's more robust than Simplenote and faster than Dropbox.
Long reads preserve my sanity.
While many of my early blogging friends have dropped off the radar to interact on social networks, I've taken a different track and now read a lot of very interesting content related to my teaching practise on SlideShare. I've also become one of the millions of people who scrape Twitter for suggestions. I follow 33 trust agents whose favourites and links I normally push directly into Instapaper where I can follow an entire article beyond the artificial limitation of 140 characters on Twittter.
As I enter my final decade of teaching adults attending Irish universities, I plan to glance back at this little blog post and update how my view of technology continues to affect how I write and what I read.
Bernie Goldbach curates links about writing.
Gurpeet Singh -- "The love-hate relationship between technical writers and software tools" on the Technical Writing Tool Box, April 5, 2012.
Cynthia McGean -- "The Muse in the Machine: The Writer's Relationship with Technology" on Writer's Wavelength, June 29, 2011.
Bonus Link: "Writing" on Slideshare.