some lessons from a week with a droid

1.) When writing emails of more than one sentence, take 10 seconds to evaluate whether you could reach a wired computer with a keyboard in 5 minutes or less. If you could, do so. Learning how to use Swype does not exempt you from this rule.

2.) You probably aren’t such a good photographer that those Hipstamatic-style filters won’t improve your work.

3.) Angry Birds is crap, thank God.

4.) The Kindle app, on the other hand, is an undiluted joy — much more beautiful and responsive than an actual Kindle.

5.) And, actually, the Kindle app is much more seductive on the Droid, i.e. in a nonwork context,than Facebook, blogs, or email, which probably says something about how much you value those things intrinsically versus qua procrastination tools.

6.) What, “intrinsically” is too much for you? Stupid Swype.

7.) Speaking of Kindles, you should know that Tana French is still going strong with Faithful Place. Sure, Frank Mackey sounds just like her other POV characters, but it’s a good voice, it works. Gene Wolfe’s An Evil Guest is also quite good, although I read that in analog.

8.) The fact that I’m writing this on the Droid is actually coincidence entire — there was a random network outage halfway through. But the WordPress app is very nice. I’d almost rather use this than the standard web interface. And now I’m finishing out on the subway, and I’ll post it on the train, which is presumably the universe trying to communicate something in re point #1.

9.) Still and all, though, the damnable thing does distract from real writing — less by the provision of particular services, dopaminergic as any given one may be, and more by the general opportunity-nay-imperative to tinker and explore. It’s not that I think there’s no value in this charmingly worded little pastiche of “David Lynch Keeps His Head” (which, in truth, I only just realized is what this is), it’s just that if it’s not one thing, it’s another, the app store is always open. Perpetual connection has made me a mobile blogger, which has obvious advantages but comes at the (not inevitable but very easily paid) opportunity cost of being a mobile scientist or novelist. And, sure, I’m just rediscovering yet another delightful variant of the 21st-century American paradox of choice, don’t think I don’t get that. Peter Brett wrote a novel on his handheld and he didn’t even have Swype; we’re not talking the freaking Zahir here. But I still want to figure out how to make my phone go into silent mode by placing it face down, because how cool is that? And I’m 31, and this just isn’t the best use of my time.

10.) A few other Swype gripes: “imperative,” “dopaminergic,” the need for extreme care in not touching the screen with the fingernail rather than the pad of the finger, “Zahir.”

11.) ETA: WordPress seems insistent on stripping my links, so let me commend you to the easily-Googled “David Lynch Keeps His Head.” Good fun if you’ve got a bit of time.


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