There’s a well-worn legend about the NASA space pen. Costing a million dollars to design, the pen was intended to solve the problem of writing in the no-gravity vacuum of space. The legend tells how the Soviets solved the same problem by using a pencil.
And even though the legend isn’t true, it’s such a helpful metaphor that I still use it often. (Being accountable to the truth is such an inconvenience when I want to make a point.)
The false legend is especially useful for cultural managers, who often feel compelled to adopt new office technologies, even when they have no resources, no training, no support, and no internal staff who have time to make it work. And even when there may be a more elegant and less technological alternative available.
Which is why, even though I’m a technology fanatic, I so enjoy the Luddite alternatives: The simple but obvious adjustments that help clear the clutter of life, using physical folders and actual paper to focus your workweek, and such.
And you have to love the ”Hipster PDA,” a rock-bottom-price alternative to the ubiquitous electronic gadget with the plastic stylus (essentially a stack of index cards and a binder clip). Says the description:
The Hipster PDA (Parietal Disgorgement Aid) is a fully extensible system for coordinating incoming and outgoing data for any aspect of your life and work. It scales brilliantly, degrades gracefully, supports optional categories and ”beaming,” and is configurable to an unlimited number of options. Best of all, the Hipster PDA fits into your hip pocket and costs practically nothing to purchase and maintain.
Computer and communications technology is extraordinarily cool and often powerfully effective. But if it’s easier, cheaper, faster, and more effective to use a pencil…use a pencil.
NOTE: If you’d like a slightly higher-tech alternative to the Hipster PDA, check out PocketMod. Geeky, I’ll admit, but cool.