After many years of blogging, and consistent with my desire to move toward retirement, we have ended the Insights blog. Thanks to Doug Bedell for his years of blog support.

When to Pause to ‘Get It Down’?

Posted on September 18, 2015
Filed Under Communication, Technology, The Writing Life | Leave a Comment

Jim Grey on his Stories From the Software Salt Mines site makes a clearcut distinction that’s worth stamping into one’s awareness: “Personal computers are for content creators; mobile devices are for content consumers.”  Or, creators – think desktop; consumers – think mobile.

me1-1Makes pretty obvious sense – up to a point that seems to be approaching with increasing speed. The continuing development of iPads and other mobile devices tempts us to use them for creating content, not just reading or viewing it. (Apple says that, come November, its newest iPad will have an external keyboard available.)

Technical writers likely are paying increasing attention to these distinctions, or to their increasing tendency to blur together. It would be nice to create serviceable copy wherever you have the ability to pause a bit, not only at your desktop, but, say, in the park. Your insights might well be sharper and your writing fresher. Using a mobile device is like having your brain more readily at hand, providing your fingers have ready access to what you’re thinking.

Mobile devices as “mere” displays allow us to take advantage of idle time. Jim Grey notes that “an Internet device in our pocket lets us pleasantly wile away the minutes we spend waiting — in doctors’ waiting rooms, before meetings begin, in the john.” But he’s not going to start blog posting on his phone.

Unless, we’d venture, Jim or any of us finds ourselves in a situation where it would be advantageous to get our thoughts down coherently because they’re especially important to us or maybe to others.

You see what’s happening here? The modes of expression are tending to merge with the availabilty of technology that can help that happen. Reflections that used to be random meditations can now be recorded musings – if and when we feel they’re significant enough. This can help make us more observant, as well as more reflective, and that’s all to the good, most of the time.

Remember the title of Jim Grey’s blog – “Stories from the Software Salt Mines.” We don’t want to feel that we’re living in a salt mine, just that we have the ability to use a mental pick and shovel when they’re occasionally advisable – for the record, say. Maybe we’d even get more sleep some nights. – Doug Bedell


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