When your chair in the sky is just not comfortable enough
How’s this working? Pretty good I think.
Well, that’s working pretty well.
I’m voice typing. I’ve wasted too much of my life typing on these stupid keyboards. I want to be able to waste my life by talking at my computer. In fact—I didn’t realize it when I started, I want to RANT at my computer.
Somewhere in the middle of this rant, I remembered Louis CK’s epic rant, the mother of all rants.:
Flying is the worst one because people come back from flights and they tell you
their story. And it’s like a horror story. They act like their flight was like a cattle car in the forties in Germany. That’s how bad they make it sound, right.
Like, “It was the worst day of my life! “First of all, we didn’t board for tenty minutes. And then we get on the plane and they made us sit there on the runway for forty minutes. We had to sit there!”
“Oh really? What happened next? Did you fly through the air incredibly like a bird? Did you partake in the miracle of human flight, you non-contributing zero? You’re flying! It’s amazing?”
Everybody on every plane should just constantly be going: “Oh my god. Wow!”
You’re you’re sitting in a chair in the sky!
So yeah, things are pretty fantastic. And I’m bitching as though I’m in the Stone Age, trying to carve my life story into a piece of granite and all I’ve got is frozen mammoth meat to carve with.
But still, I’ve got a right to bitch. Because this is America. Because it’s my fucking blog and I get to decide who post bitchy rants in my blog. And guess who I’ve decided has the right to bitch?
So here’s the bitchy rant.
My friend JL ( you know who you are) has inspired me to do something I’ve been wanting to do for a long time. (Including writing this rant) Before you get too full of yourself, JL, you’re not my only inspiration. But I think what you did was the metaphorical straw that—- something, something, something appropriate to that metaphor. (Really? You think I have time to waste trying to figure out what the appropriate metaphor is? Dream on! I’ve got ranting to do.)
Anyway back to JL, who I will now refer to in the third person. He set up a Slack channel and invited me and a bunch of his friends to participate. He posts a shitload of stuff, mostly worth reading, by some definition of “worth reading.” Which translated to “might be good” as opposed to “ probably a waste of time.” So I diligently read the stuff that he posted, because given that he had gone to the trouble of posting, the least I could do was read. And I wanted to do the least I could do.
And then I started getting annoyed. Chair in the sky annoyed.
I admired him for taking the trouble to post the good stuff. And I felt bad that I was not posting too. And I felt bad that I was not commenting more. Then I thought: Fuck you, JL for making me feel bad! (Chair in the sky, anyone?)
Actually, it wasn’t his fault I was pissed off. It was mainly Slack’s fault.
When it came to the Slack interface, either I had Intuition Deficiency DIsorder (IDD) or the interface had Stupid Interface Disorder (SID.) Either way, every time I tried to create a thread to reply I had to take literally hours figuring out how to do it. You don’t believe me? Do the math. If I spent six seconds trying to figure it out—and I spent more than 6, several times,, that would be 0.0016666667 hours. So literally hours!
That got me thinking about all my other communication channels and their not-as-unintuitive but still
not-quite-intuitive interfaces. For one thing, there’s the job of finding the right channel and then doing something. I’ve got 12 Hangouts channels that I’ve used in the last several days. I’ve got JL’s Slack, which itself has a whole bunch of channels organized by topic. If I hadn’t removed myself from Facebook, G+, Twitter, Google News, and Reddit I’d be bitching about them. In fact, I will. Bitch! Bitch! Bitch!
And then there’s email. And then there are all the blogs that I read and then there are all the blogs that I’ve got and mostly never post on. Every one of these things has its own interface. They’re all slightly different. Each has some good things and some stupid things.
And it’s the stupid things that piss me off.
So I started thinking about what it would be like to live in a world with no stupidity. The only information that would be presented to me was valuable information. I wouldn’t have to waste my time getting rid of trash. We’ll come to that later. I can only rant about so much at once, and for the moment I want to rant about the production side.
I’m beyond keyboards. I’ve gotten pretty good at using Google’s Voice Typing in Google Docs on phone or desktop or Chromebook or speech to text on my phone. I’ve been writing this post on my Thinkpad in Docs and it will go out with minimal editing because I’m that good. ( You think! Says the perfectionist within me. And of course, the perfectionist is right. I am incapable of leaving well enough alone.) But even that is really annoying—the way a chair in the sky that is slightly uncomfortable is annoying. For example, voice typing lets me voice type comma, period, exclamation mark, and new paragraph. But there is no way to insert quote marks. Or colons, semicolons, or emoji.
Really, it’s a complete fucked up chair in the sky kind of annoying.
And Voice Typing persists in spelling Bobbi as Bobby because that’s the way 99% of the world spells “bah bee.” But I’m not 99% of the world. There’s pretty much only one Bobbi in my life and she spells her name Bobbi, not Bobby. And Google harvests all this information from me. It reads my email and my hangouts channel and for all I know reads my dreams at night because I sleep with an Android device to wake me up. So Google should know how to fucking spell Bobbi. Especially since I keep correcting it.
It would be nice if I could customize Docs to not make that mistake.
Right now Doc’s is the best available tool. I write most of my drafts in a document called “Drafting Document” because where else are you going to write drafts? It’s on the home screens of my mobile devices, and it’s on my browser’s bookmarks bar. So easy to get to.
But sometimes I intend to share a draft with someone else. So what do I do then? If I create another document, it’s not automatically on my home screen. Doesn’t Google know I want it available until I’ve said I’m done with it. And that aside, look at all the work I have to do to create a document. If I’m not already in a document I have to get to Docs or Drive or an existing document. And even if I am in an existing document—or once I get to one…well, just look at what I have to deal with!
First, I have to click File->New->Doc. That’s actually three clicks, plus a mouse move. And don’t give me any of that “use your keyboard” shit. It’s not my fault that I didn’t think about that until I was writing this. Anyway, I do the typing or clicking. And then what? I have to wait, literally hours for Google to get around to creating my document. Don’t believe me? I just clocked it. It took 0.00111111 hours. So literally I had to waste hours! (And my number is accurate. I just Googled “0.00111111 hours to seconds” And the answer was very damn close to what I got when I timed it.
Very often I’ll do the drafting in the drafting document and then create the Doc I am going to share. Now I’m on a new tab, and I have to go back to the original tab and select the text that I want to move over and cut it, and then switch tabs again, and then paste it into the new Doc, And then I have to go to the title, and type in a title because the default is probably wrong.
And either way, I have to file the Doc in some folder or it will add to the clutter at the top of my folder tree, which right now probably has literally tens of thousands of little files in it. (I checked. I’ve got 97 files and that’s 0.0097 tens of thousands.)
Enough bitching. (For now) Here’s what I’d like.
I’d like one place to go to to do all my writing. I’d like that one place to keep a record of everything that I’ve done in time sequence. Whether it goes to some blog or an email or hangouts, I want it all in one stream. Because now, when I’m looking for something I’ve written, I have to look in a bunch of places. Is it in my blog? In the Beyond Labels blog? Was it in a hangouts conversation? Was it an email? Was it in Slack?
You may think that this is a trivial complaint. But now that I am committed to complaining, no complaint is trivial. This is an existential problem. I’m wasting my life doing this shit. My very precious life.
I am a cyborg, and having my memory scattered and fragmented makes me a degraded cyborg. As a cyborg, I’ve got a huge memory, way bigger than I have is a human being. But it’s fragmented. I am fragmented. There is a piece of me and hangouts. There is a piece of me in Google Docs. There are pieces of me in email—under various emails. I’d like to be able to go to one place and be able to find myself—everything I’ve ever written or said and recorded or photographed. Or even looked at.
Really, even looked at. I keep finding things on the web that are interesting. Sometimes I’m diligent and I bookmark them. But I’ve got a bunch of bookmarking places. Bookmarks. Pinboard. OneTab. Various posts. And sometimes I read something and don’t bookmark it and then, 6 months later, I think “Oh, wow! There was this article I read about that.” And I can’t remember where the hell I saw it. And then I have to spend literally hours, literally days, literally years looking for it.
It would be cool to have a way to write in one place, and perhaps have the header Identify a destination. Have a document modified dynamically, with corrections based on my preferences, not everyone else’s.
That’s what I want. And today I took the first steps in that direction. But I’ve ranted enough.
Time to post this and get on to the next thing.
(Except, you know what? . I’ve got to open a new tab. I have to go to blogger and go to the right blog. I’ve got to click on something to create a new post. I’ve got to copy paste this into the new post. I have to give it a title. Because it doesn’t know what the fucking title is. Then I have to check it. Then I have to figure out what labels to give it. And then, finally, I can post it. This sucks!)
(Oh, yeah, I forgot. I have to type Ctrl-Alt-M to turn it from Markdown to HTML. And then I tried to add this by Voice Typing. But Voice Typing doesn’t work in Blogger. Will my misery never end?)