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Technology should make things easier, but please leave some things as they are
Sometimes technology helps us, other times it's confusing, infuriating, and a distraction from what matters. Also, I still want to bash trees and metal into useful shapes and cook with fire.
I’ve decided to start Analog Ways, Digital Daze as a place to capture thoughts, rants, and possibly some helpful guides, reviews and other stuff I feel fits the theme.
We’re going to explore how we can apply technology to our lives to help us make hard, time-consuming things easier and less time-consuming. Similarly though, I want to recognise that it shouldn’t replace everything that we do. We can choose to keep some things purely analog and keep them that way, and we’ll explore those too. My belief is that technology should be a seasoning rather than the main course; something that enhances what we’re doing and that we’re free to apply and to not apply as and when necessary.
Let’s take a look at what I hope to achieve here. It might evolve over time but this is where I’m starting.
I work at balena, where our mission is to “Enable people to leverage technology to address the real world challenges of our time”. I truly believe in this mission, and thus, in alignment with that, and on a personal level, I hope to inspire you to have a go at using the vast amount of technology we have at our fingertips to solve real world problems. My aim here is not to push any specific agenda, but on a very high level, explore use cases in the hope that it will inspire you and everyone else reading to get stuck in and try to make things better for yourself and others. This sounds grand but it really doesn’t have to be - there are countless free and open software and hardware projects already in existence on places like GitHub and Tindie. It’s easier than it ever has been to build a proof of concept of your idea, enter small scale production and build up from there.
In pursuit of this, I may write about use cases that I think are cool. I may dig in to challenges I see and theorise about how they could be addressed. I may freely mix British and American English without caring. I may do other, related or unrelated things.
This is definitely not going to be the comprehensive, go-to resource for figuring out how to apply technology to the world, or even your life, to solve actual real challenges, or even to just make something easier, but I’m going to have a crack at contributing.
I believe that we should aim to make technology as accessible as possible. Obviously the barrier to entry today is lower than it was, but we should keep lowering it. Things don’t always have to be hard, but the process of taking a hard thing and making it easy is always (or seems to be) hard. I think it’s important to acknowledge that. If we’re trying to make things easier for next time, it probably makes sense that we take on what is difficult and address it now.
In pursuit of this, I may write how-to guides, articles, reviews, and other possibly related stuff. Ever since I was about 16 (I’m not 16 now), I’ve been writing that kind of thing and putting it on the Internet. Currently, I’m not doing that, which is weird to me, and so I aim to get back to it. If I can do anything that helps enable you to do something that you couldn’t before - great! If I can write a guide to show you how to solve a problem, cool. If I can write something which just gets you on the path to solving it, also cool.
3. Figuring out what matters
Lastly, I want to explore analogue ways of doing things. Sometimes from the past, sometimes just being tired of screens and electronics and actively wanting to avoid it. I sometimes think doing this stuff has the potential to show us what matters when we’re building with technology. It’s good to get a feel for what things are like without it to know how we can apply the technological seasoning appropriately, and know we’re not doing it just for the sake of it. Sometimes I want to have fun playing with the latest technology and figuring out how to use it, other times I want to go and cook something with a fire and eat it. Other times I might just want to use an oven, or use a well built piece of software that doesn’t infuriate me immediately. It doesn’t have to be all or nothing.
I’ll try to document the more analog things I’m interested in exploring and trying in the hope that it encourages others to do the same. I like the idea that we can use the full spectrum from old analogue stuff to brand new digital stuff and everything in between, as long as it’s enjoyable.
Hopefully this gives an idea of the vibe and the feel of the type of stuff that’ll be here. It’s definitely helped me to write it down instead of just thinking about it, but that’s it for now. I have some work to do in order to cover the topics I want to cover. See you on the next one.
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