So i’m flying up the East coast railway up to Penrith and pondering the iPad.

It’s already proved itself for early morning perusal of the papers and a quick check of what the day has in store. So far it’s made the 120 miles to the Midlands fly by and I’m digging the rather natty black leather case that doubles as a stand. (thereby relieving apple of a dozen lawsuits about neck damage from bent-over typists.) And while it’s definitely the gadget I’ve always been waiting for ( beautiful browsing, emails that look like letters, a screen like a very hi- tech tv) it brings up the perennial question:

Do shiny containers just distract from a lack of content?

Each time I get a new bit of software, or decide on a new strategy for living my life, or blaze up over a new philosophical outlook on the world, I wonder if I would be better off without it. If my life would be more immediate, less procrastinated if I just wrote things down with a pencil on a piece of paper, if I just got on and did my life instead of constantly re-styling it.

I was talking to an old uni friend of mine at the weekend who is hugely successful and creative and he was extolling the virtue of changing your mind: getting up in the morning with a plan and ditching it after 15 minutes because something more interesting has come up. Following your heart not some plan.

I had a similar visitation with an Alsatian dog on a beach in Brazil many years ago: I was loving his company but he sat down and wouldn’t go any further. Because I’d decided to continue to the end of the beach I continued on before I realised that I was loving him not the arbitrary point the plan had imposed on things. So I turned back and watched him chase is tail in delight as I came back to play with him in the surf.

Similarly talking to another friend yesterday, I was pondering how life should never be that much of an effort. If just being in your own skin is a massive effort then, I guess, something is not quite right. Surely the default setting has to be ease… I mean, with nothing going on except the air going in and out, the hair growing, then it should be easy…

What does this have to do with the iPad? I’m no longer sure…

My uncle, a very successful commercial artist and graphic designer, refuses to update his computer or the software he uses to draw. He really does prefer to use a pencil and paper. And he says that he’s known colleagues who do less and less work as they upgrade more and more.

Perhaps I just have to keep writing… And if I can do it on the train to Penrith then all the better. Just think of it as very expensive, responsive paper….


  1. flying cat

    June 1, 2010 at 7:20 pm

    fly baby fly, and keep writing.
    ellare, it’s so simple. x

  2. Jo

    June 2, 2010 at 10:33 am

    So long as you keep writing Alistair and sharing your thoughts with us, I don’t care how you do it!!! J:) xx

  3. Valerie W

    June 2, 2010 at 9:06 pm

    Everything in moderation.

  4. Alison Campbell

    June 3, 2010 at 1:18 am

    Great post Alistair!
    One day, writing by hand will be a lost art – just you wait and see.

    I love technology – and I also love to receive hand-written letters
    but I have not had one of those for……..can’t remember.

  5. AIsForEffort

    June 4, 2010 at 1:06 am

    “If just being in your own skin is a massive effort then, I guess, something is not quite right.”

    I’m more inclined to think that not all skins are equal, that for some it’s harder to be in than others. As some skins are tight fitting leaving little wiggle room making it hard to stretch too much without causing some discomfort, while others have skins that have more ample room… let’s call that fat skin.

  6. Valerie W

    June 9, 2010 at 8:22 pm

    To my horror our school system has stopped teaching
    cursive writing. Everyone prints to the best of their
    ability. Maybe letting things like this go by the ‘
    wayside is why Johnny can’t read when he “graduates”
    high school.

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