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The Appeal of Physical

Based on last weeks email I got a few questions that shared similar themes. People switching between paper/digital tools and books and never quite finding the ideal they hope to find. I’ve done the same thing a number of times. My notebook usage ebbs and flows. I almost always take book notes in a notebook and use it as a filtering process for what’s worth taking notes on, but I also take notes on physical books exclusively in Obsidian sometimes because life feels overloaded and it’s hard to find time to read the book then transfer the notes to Obsidian.

It’s echoed very well in this video about 6 months of dedicated usage of paper, only to move to the iPad as the note tool that seems to “fit” better.

Disconnecting often feels like an ideal I can’t live up to. I want to be able to sit quietly and take notes and read without notifications coming my way all day, but I manage 80+ US cities and sometimes they have issues even when I’m not officially “on the clock” so I clock in and do some work1. Even more disruptive is the messages from my teenage daughter or wife as we try to orchestrate the day together, and figure out who is getting our kids where for what time.

One question stood out, Robert asked if having your physical note cards visible would mean you go through them more. Yes that may happen, but if we look at The Death of Expertise, it’s easy we also use “skimming” as a shorthand for thinking we know something. I wager that it’s easier to do this via an online search2 but I think the same thing is still possible with cards.

Whether you put your notes in a tool like Obsidian, or use physical cards, you still have to put aside the time to go over your notes. You still need to schedule time to think without interruption. You still need to feel comfortable with simply sitting and thinking…or not thinking and sitting there blankly waiting for thoughts to come.

It’s hard to do at any point. It’s harder to do regularly. I think that part of the reason we switch between physical/analogue tools or even different applications it’s that we hope the next application or system will be the magic bullet that finally lets us think/read/write/do things the way we’ve always hoped we could.

A tool/system won’t do this though. We need to make a choice to slow down so that we have the time to come close to the ideal life we want.

Hybrid Productivity

Like LJPUK I too use a hybrid productivity system. I have tasks in Todoist so I can have web links and reminders and recurring tasks. My daily list comes from my bullet journal. I wrote about the system back in 2021 and with the exception of changing task managers because Things 3 doesn’t support Linux, it’s basically the same system.

There are benefits to both physical and digital tools, use what works for you and don’t worry about the rest.

Unregulated Satellites are Polluting more than the night sky

While SpaceX plans to launch more than 42k satellites (they currently have around 5000) into the night sky a group of researchers have been astonished at what they find in the air that is attributed to satellite breakup in the atmosphere causing pollution. Starlink satellites have a lifespan of roughly five years after which they deorbit…get dumped into earth atmosphere to burn up.

Well they don’t quite burn up though, we’re now finding vaporized metals in the atmosphere.

I have friends that work far back out of anything resembling cell coverage and they have Starlink attached to their vehicles so they can communicate with family for the months they’re away. I get the utility of it, but it sure seems like we need to put some more planning time into how we’re dealing with satellites.

If we’re seeing shocking amounts of metals in the atmosphere now without the megaconstellations planned by Amazon, China…and others, what type of impact will we see when they do come online.

Then there is the light pollution from satellites which will only get worse if these companies and governments get to launch their satellites.

  1. Very rarely like once every few months I need to do this. ↩︎
  2. As described in Death of Expertise ↩︎

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