Software, Writing, Productivity

So this just decided to be a TealArt entry when I wasn't looking.

I've been reading 43 Folders for a month or so at this point, and I find it kind of delightful. For those of you who don't know the site, done by Merlin Man, is all about productivity from a geek/mac user perspective. This is terribly cool, and has allowed me to crystalize a lot of thoughts I've had about my own digital (and really life) organization. The following are some of these thoughts.

Productivity

One thing that Merlin goes on about is David Allen's Getting Things Done approach. Frankly the corporate productivity slant is kind of a put off, but there are a number of tenants that reading 43f and associated materials regarding GTD that are helpful, and summarize a number of things that I think I noticed. For instance, I really like the emphasis on collecting data so that your organizational system isn't in your head. I've generally been pretty good about keeping track of things in my head, but it requires a lot of attention to make sure that you're on top of things, and if you can get it off your mind, you free up attention from meta-tasks, to actual tasks. In a similar vein the "GTD" methodology suggests that you separate meta data from project/relevant data, and then only have one "system" whatever it is for organizing this data (I suppose technically two, one for meta and one for project, but whatever), so that your brain isn't preoccupied with keeping the organization systems in synch. GTD also recommends that you organize your tasks into projects (a collection of tasks that combine to equal a gestalt [1]) the tasks which make up the project, and then output this data by context (where the task needs to get done, or what resources are necessary).

This entry, as initially envisioned was mostly to be about the "not splitting your/my attention between multiple systems for managing project data," so I'll get on with writing that entry, but I just wanted to provide that little summary. I have some interesting commentaries on the "GTD Community," and what not that I think might be interesting to share at some point, so just keep that in the back of your mind. Anyway...

Software

I just discovered a GREAT novel/long project writing program. I'll putz around with it after break, but it seems to have a lot of great features. Don't get me wrong, I really love my wiki program for all sorts of day to day editing and drafting, but for any sustained piece of writing over, say 2,500 words, it doesn't do so well. In addition to being awesome in terms of editing/output formating, it has a lot of meta features (like a database, marginal notes, and a note pad) that makes the writing long projects super good. If there was one thing that I wish this program had that it doesn't is footnotes.

VoodooPad, the wiki program, is basically a wiki-ified TextEdit (Word Pad for the PC users out there), and while it does a great job of editing RTF type files, and I like a lot of the features, I find it best for planning, and note taking type applications. Having said that, this semester, it has basically been the only application that I've used for text editing of any kind, and while I fully expect to continue to use it into the future, I've been feeling the limits of the program.

I think this is an issue that I'll take up in another post, but I think Wiki's generally, (and this is perhaps due to wikipedia's influence in particular), encourage "pages" to take on the structural role of paragraphs, in the conceptual process. This is all fine and dandy, but I've always been a long form kind of guy, and I'm not sure scholarly and the kind of creative writing I might be prone to doing, is ready for the kind of nonliearity that this kind of organization might produce. This linearity/nonlinearity, is definitely something that I go back and forth on a bunch. But as a system, I think the Wiki organization works best, so I don't know. In any case this new editor might answer the problem with long form and presentation work, without disrupting the system overly much.

Writing

As I've ruminated for a while on this site, and to a few of you, I kind of regret that I wasn't either particpating in NaNoWriMo, or in the process of writing something creative this November. In response, I also have a great screen writing program that I have a lot of love for. My goal next semester is to get back into writing for real, I think. I tried to outline something this summer which fell flat, a little, but I might be able to run with it. I'm also tossing around an idea for an academic paper next semester which I think would get me to read (hopefully) a number of cool science fiction books (Tripree, LeGuin, Delany) which I think would be inspiring. Or something.

Cheers, tycho

[1]ok, so maybe that's my term... by the way, weblogs need (better) footnote settings.
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