Thursday, February 12, 2009


Computers and technology put bread on the table in this household. Thanks to Al Gore they permeate society and have become a part of the basic fabric of our existance.

While I use technology on a day to day basis I find that wherever possible I try to avoid being dependant upon it. Where I can get away with a low tech or no tech solution to a problem that is the path that I prefer to take.

Each and every day I spend hours in front of a computer for work. I send and recieve emails, research using the WEB, publish reports, all in all producing thousands of words of 'work'.

However, to be creative I need to have a pencil in hand. There is something about having a simple wooden pencil in hand and some good toothy paper that just gets my creative juices flowing. I can be abstract with a pencil. I can easily jot down ideas. I can express myself and solve problems.

Pens just don't work the same way for me. I've tried them all; felt tips, ball points, roller points, gels, to no avail. I just cannot express myself in the same way using a pen as I can a pencil.

What is it about pencils that works for me? A pencil is comfortable to the touch. I currently prefer natural finish pencils (Pepermate American Naturals). Pencils invoke a calm, I suppose from the sweet smell of the wood. They invite a leisurly pace to the creative process by forcing you to periodically pause to sharpen and refine the point. Even the sound of a pencil is soothing - the gentle rasp of the graphite against the paper.

And so I find myself coming in a full technological circle. I find that as a programmer I often start the process of planning and designing an application with a pencil in hand. My favorite prototyping tool involves a large wall, post it notes and a pencil. In the development process I will always have several legal pads at hand to record the trivia needed for the development process. Here are my to do lists, my lists of changes to be made, my action items.

And so I find myself heavily reliant on the low tech to complete the high tech. I guess that if the high tech cannot be avoided it should at least be made enjoyable and satisfying which a lowly pencil enables for me.

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