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Getting Fiddly with Technology Does Have a Cost

For nerdy tech lovers, adopting new software, or adding new software to a multi-step process, is fun. Trying out new features and learning new interfaces seem justified in the search for the Holy Grail of most efficient and flexible workflows.

But the truth is, multiple steps and new programs lead to learning curves and transition issues. They lock you into a particular application (or series of applications) and formats. Now you need your laptop and its specific software, or multiple machines and synchronized data. Time is lost among the transitions and consultations of manuals and user forums.

I'm guilty of this as much as anybody. But I'm also increasingly aware of the high costs of these adoptions, changes, and proprietary formats. Whenever I'm tempted to try out new software (as with Mac Power Users show 100), I now remind myself of those high costs (in addition to the high literal costs of such applications, considered over time). I still enjoy taking software out on a test drive, but I'm hesitant to adopt it with any real investment of time and money. My bar is now set fairly high.

The best technological innovation of the past 5 years, I contend, is the global search of plain text. What makes google, gmail, NVAlt, and textapp so great is their simple plain text that is quickly indexed and searchable. This method is simple to archive and recall, does not locked you into a proprietary format, is transferable between various applications, and is multiple platform. I'll add to that, as a close second, PDFs, which are not as small and quick as plain text, but are platform agnostic and often searchable. This is where our focus should be, and not in endless fiddling and application experimentation and adoption.

GTD: record and find

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