Sunday, December 13, 2009

Our Destiny Is Simplicity

I've written this blog post in Ommwriter (and then pasted it into blogger obviously). What is Ommwriter? It is a kind of 'ambient word processor' (for Macs only unfortunately): it is designed to filter out distractions - something we face all the time when we spend a lot of our time online (The Sunday Times reports that our brains are currently bombarded by 2.3 words per second, or about 100,000 words a day).

The experience of using Ommwriter is really ... rather ... mellow ... like something Brian Eno would produce. The experience is auditory as well as visual, so you can choose different background colours and even different keyboard sounds as you type.

I feel it is designed for poets and novelists rather than bloggers - there is no hypertext function for instance (the links in this post were added by me using Blogger). But then isn't hypertext the apotheosis of distraction?

On the other hand, I am working on a non-fiction book, and anything that reduces distraction is very welcome. Though I might be concerned about productivity - the experience is so mellow I could just get tooooo relaxxxed. What's the hurry man?

Ommwriter is another example of the Quantified Self (one of my favourite topics), i.e.: using the potentialities of emerging technologies to forge a deeper connection with the user - and to life's tempo - and a deeper level of self-awareness as a result.

What I also like about Ommwriter is how clean the user interface is. No menus (they're hidden until you move your cursor to the menu space); and a screen completely filled with a serene image (currently a snow covered field on a foggy day). I have often thought that our destiny is simplicity: that the ultimate trajectory of The Technium - to use Kevin Kelly's phrase for the evolving world of technology - is to enfold itself back into the world of flesh and blood people.

Robin Hanson is right, this is the dreamtime, and our descendents will look back at us in bemused wonder. But they will do so via tools like Ommwriter. A sufficiently advanced technology will be indistinguishable from humanity ...


  1. Gerard, a much better program is Scrivener--it had a full screen button that does all of this, as well as a cool 'binder' function which holds all your research files and other drafts in one program and indeed in 1 file. I wrote Ireland in 2050 in it and can't recommend it highly enough. It's not good for technical writing-LaTeX is much better-but for books, this is the one for me.

  2. Thanks for the tip Stephen - downloaded and trialling ...

  3. Thanks for the tips both of you! I've sometimes disabled the wireless to stop myself from fidgeting around the net while I should be working!( should try it now perhaps?)

  4. For Windows too, not only Mac


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