Our writing tools are also working on our thoughts.
– Nietzsche, quoted in Kittler’s Gramophone, Film, Typewriter
I am going to try reorganizing my office desk around pen and paper, to see whether that retro-fit might boost productivity. For as long as I’ve been in academia – well, for as long as my work station has revolved around word processing – I have organized my desk and work space around the computer. Now that computers are both a) ubiquitously mobile and b) designed for
multitasking maximum distraction, I’m curious to discover whether re-orienting my work space around old-fashioned writing, reading, and telephony can do anything for productivity (and attention control).
Here’s my office desk’s “Before” pic (showing it behaving itself better than usual on the clutter front):
The hunch has come to me more or less out of the blue (this particular blue being exasperation with chronic and electronics-heavy desk clutter). But I am also partly motivated by the current debates on attention as dwindling resource, and on how to get more writing done. And while security isn’t a primary motivation (or not more so than usual, despite recent intelligence exposes), I am fascinated by the related retro-media news that the Kremlin has decided to abandon computers and return to typewriters, to mitigate against hacking and preserve more secure record-keeping.
Anyway. Here’s what the workspace looks like now.
A few of the electronics are still hanging around – the printer makes a convenient bookend – but the focal point is now a writing pad, not a computer.