LEON JACOBS

In praise of slow tech

Added on by Leon Jacobs.

The more I digitize, the more I yearn for slower tech. 

Let's take writing as an example. 

Have we made the process of writing too easy? 

Barely 50 years ago most writing was done using typewriters. The actual process of writing on such a machine is vastly different to what it is on a word processor. 

For a start, deletion is not to easy. When you press down on the keys, you are committing ink to paper. That means you have to have a measure of security that what you are typing is what you mean. It means more sentences and paragraphs are composed in the mind before your fingers type them out. With a word processor you just let rip, because backspace backspace backspace. Apple-c, apple-x. That sort of thing.

Think about photography. With film cameras, you have limited exposures on each roll and on top of that, the process of developing and printing the exposures is relatively expensive. That means, before you open and close the shutter, you think a little more about composition. With digital, the size of the disk is the limit. Zrrrrrrrr and you let rip, paying less attention to the quality of the shot - because in amongst those 1000 shots of the toddler smiling there must be something good. 

The ease of digital also makes the enjoyment of music easy. Almost too easy. We simply shuffle our libraries or subscribe to the world's entire music collection and whatever we want streams into our heads wherever our heads seem to find themselves at that particular moment. Before MP3 players shrunk our libraries to little portable disks that fit into the pocket of ones skinny jeans, the act of listening to music was an action. You had to use your fingers to select a record or disc, insert it into a player, sit down, and listen to the tracks. 

The advent of digital has helped us to cycle down to the lowest level of energy. We are allowing our creative selves to collapse on the couch and get fat. 

I am making the case for slow tech. For tools that slow us down to enable us to think more. Creative magic is not born from computers, they spring from the flash of inspiration inbetween our ears. Ideas, percolating slowly out of hunches that have been allowed to stew for the prescribed amount of time. 

Type a story on a typewriter. Write with a pencil on a legal pad. Design with a pencil on the back of a napkin. We have powerful tools at our disposal, but they require discipline and quality of thought to reign them and apply them properly. 

We need creative tools that slow us down and force us to think. Treadmills for our synapses. 

A better world needs slower tech.

I probably should have written this on a typewriter.