Monday, April 28, 2014

Adventures in Linear Thinking



Adventures in Linear Thinking

Don’t get me wrong.  I love my phone.  My phone connects me to the world, my friends, my business.  It provides me with the name, address, hours of operation and directions to the nearest Vietnamese/Ethiopian/Barbecue restaurant no matter where I roam.  My Smartphone and I have a wonderful relationship.

However, like all relationships, it has its problems.  One of these is my
ToDo list.  I am a list maker.  I have friends who swear I have a list for everything, and somewhere (they are sure) is a list of lists.  Here is where my smartphone and I have relationship problems.

I have downloaded probably fifteen “ToDo” apps.  None of them are quite right.  I finally found a British one which works okay, but is less than ideal.  At least it understands when I spell things funny.  I have a memo app, a sticky-note app and a “reminder” app that dings incessantly for 15 minutes prior to any appointment (it’s like having an electronic mom).  I thought I could adjust.  I have tried.

I think the problem stems from the way the designers of apps brains work.  They think linearly.  “If A then B” is hardwired into the app writing process.  Theoretically, this should make those list apps work like silk.  Until they run up against my system.  My lists are many and varied.  They encompass subjects as diverse as knitting patterns in progress and garden plans.  They are cross-referenced (“See Garden List - item 14” in the middle of the Shopping list).  It doesn’t work with the app writer brain.

For years and years in the ‘80s and ‘90s, I carried a small book.  It was slightly bigger than a brick, and only slightly less heavy, bound in leather with a zipper closure.  It had a calendar in it, and lots of lists.  Cross-referenced and vaguely coordinated lists for various tasks, as well as graph paper for sketching out ideas… I called it “THE BRAIN”.  But when smart phones arrived, I put The Brain away.  I was embracing technology.  I would adapt even if it killed me.

I tried.  I did.  I worked with the list apps, I deleted the list apps, I downloaded a new and better list app every other month, looking for the random access list app of my dreams.  No dice.  I now make lists on the backs of envelopes and find them in my purse months later.  Irrelevant. 

So, smartphone, I love you, but I went upstairs and dug through my office.  I found “The Brain”, its last calendar dated 2006.  It was dusty and needed some leather balm, but I found it.  I’m going back to the Cathy System of lists (there is a list of lists… it’s in the front).  The random, seemingly disconnected paper-trail that I have missed.  And the graph paper.  It’s still in there, it’s been waiting for me to come back.

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