Sunday, February 8, 2015

Still analog after all these years

As a tech junkie, it's sometimes hard for me to admit that the technology is just not there yet to totally replace the real world. 

Don't get me wrong, the day may come, and it may even be soon, when computers can do pretty much everything we can do, and better (watch this short video about algorithms that can author blog posts).

And though I very much enjoy the real, physical, dirt, sweat (and snow) world, I must say I feel like reality leaves plenty of room for improvement. I wouldn't mind being able to adjust certain settings on my brain at certain times, for example (and then there are things like cancer...).

But though we're progressing at breakneck speed, we don't want to embrace tech for tech's sake. For one thing, history is strewn with examples of humanity biting off more technology than it (or the environment) can chew at the time. And though I love the internet and mobile tech, we don't fully understand the potential impacts on our brains.

But that's not my main point. I'm willing to take a few risks for the sake of the advantages of early adoption. I'm more concerned about the practicalities. 

Case in point: Bullet Journal.

I'm a planner/to-do-list type, and was never able to find an app that could do everything I needed (though I love Google Calendar). Then I found Bullet Journal. Only it's not an app--it's a paper-based system designed by an art director named Ryder Carroll. And it's awesome. Even as a tech addict, I'm not ashamed to say I use a paper planner and journal when it's a brilliantly elegant system like this. The computer-based technology is simply not there yet. It hasn't reached the multi-faceted flexibility of this analog system.

And of course there are countless similar examples, most of which are much more significant than planners: Real human relationships, for example. They are still analog, of course, and I imagine it will be a while before they are replaced by a 100% digital version. And it will be a while before there's a digital replacement for hiking the Great Gulf Wilderness.

The problem comes when we try to jump the gun, when we think the tech is there and it's not, or when we jump in without looking first, or when we adopt without understanding the consequences, or are caught off guard. Social media are an awesome way to increase our connections with others, for example, but they easily become a distracting or addictive. Google is an awesome resource, but it can lull us into intellectual laziness if we're not careful.

The answer is not a Luddite knee-jerk rejection of tech, but nor is it blind immersion. It's about intentional and careful experimentation and thoughtful adoption. And patience. And for techies like me, willingness to admit that sometimes (often times?) the pen and paper, flesh-and-bones, or face-to-face method is still better. 

The question is, what's really the best way to do what we need (or want) to do.

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