2 kinds of people…

There are two kinds of people…

One kind likes to have the trash can / recycle bin on their computers empty. They take every opportunity to right click and select clear / empty trash. Emptying that trash can provides them with a cathartic release.

The other kind treats the trash can as another storage folder. It frequently has thousands of files, residing in there for months. Clearing the trash can brings to them a dreadful feat of loss—of the unknown unknown. Clearing the recycle bin is only done when system space runs low, and even then, painstakingly, on a file by file basis.

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Is Ctrl+Z handicapping us in the real world?

Has an easy undo feature trained us to work at high-speed but low focus?

When it’s always easy to undo and correct, there’s no reason to focus on getting things right, or even thinking things through before doing them.

Handwriting (or typing on a typewriter) a document meant being focused on the task because any mistakes meant ugly cross marks or rewriting the page.

Similarly, working with physical objects – in a carpentry class in college, or cooking a simple dish – required strong focus. A wrong cut in a wood slab meant a wasted slab or a hacked joint. A dish could end up overcooked or unsalted.

But when working on a computer, any errors due to a lack of attention can easily be rectified with a simple undo, removing the need for full focus in the moment.

As we (I) spend more of our time—work and leisure—on computers, we may have trained ourselves to expect the undo feature everywhere.

This mental training (‘all errors are undoable’) creeps into our non-computer activities and interactions. We may be forgetting to stay fully focused in the moment, to think ahead (before we speak/do), and thus may be becoming more inefficient/incapable than before.

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