Mobile Computing and Personal Organization

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Via Hacker News, I ran into an article titled "The Personal Organizer we had Before the Newton." Although interesting in its own right, the article reminded me of advice I vaguely recall being from David Allen's Getting Things Done. The advice was something to the effect of using a personal organizing gadget you like and will want to play with. Good idea: That makes keeping track of things fun.

So what made me think of this? The below, for one thing:

So how much storage did this device have? A whopping 64K! The company touted that as being enough to store 1,400 names, phone numbers, and addresses. The B.O.S.S. could actually sync to both PCs and Macs via a PCLink port. To do so, you had to purchase both a special cable and an application named Laplink from a company called Traveling Software that is still around! [link dropped]
Most such devices were far more capable than this when I read GTD years ago, but many required proprietary software and looked to me like they'd be obsolete in a very short time. Thus the reward for taking the trouble to learn to use them would be either (a) obsolescence and the need for a painful migration, (b) vendor lock-in, or (c) some nasty combination of both.

It seemed to me that a more general purpose class of device that would be easier to replace and more like/compatible with a desktop would serve my purposes better. Those devices soon indeed came, in the form of Android phones with platform-agnostic software like Todo.txt and Dropbox. Being able to build on my knowledge and customizations over time, rather than having to start all over again every few years -- or having to do everything someone else's way (subject to change or feature bloat at any time) is what I truly find exciting, and that has proved very conducive to improving my own organization and time management.

-- CAV

P.S. I can't resist noting that I wrote this post on my phone a few months back while waiting an extra half-hour for a friend -- who should have used the map on his phone -- to meet me for lunch.

No comments: