Home How my PDA is mobilising my read/write lifestyle

How my PDA is mobilising my read/write lifestyle

I got my first PDA for Christmas, a Palm Tungsten T2 – cost about $700 in New Zealand dollars. It’s already changed my reading/writing habits for the better. For a start, my information management has improved because I now have my goals and ‘To Do’ list on me all the time. I review, edit and add to my tasks each day, then at night I synchronise with my home PC. I haven’t yet got to the stage of wirelessly connecting to the Internet in order to keep in synch constantly, but I know that when I do I will make another leap forward in my personal information management.

What’s most interesting is looking at how my reading/writing system has changed now that I have a PDA. I read a lot more blog content via my PDA now and I also read longer articles more often. Remember that old axiom that lengthy articles don’t get read on the Web? For example we were told in the past to “write no more than 50% of the text you would have used in a hardcopy publication” and to write for scannability, etc. This no longer applies in the era of mobile browsing/reading. Now that I can save long essays to my PDA for perusing at my leisure, I am able to fully absorb and appreciate a well-written lengthy weblog post. I’ve always believed in the principle that long articles and essays have just as much right to be on the Web than short bite-sized weblog posts. Now finally I’ve found the technological means to live properly by that principle.

Part of the reason that lengthy articles are traditionally considered bad form on the Web is the discomfort level of reading text on a screen. Not to mention the discomfort of being tied to a chair all day. OOS and sore eyes are the desk jockey’s lot. But when I’m reading via my PDA, I’m free to move around and do other things at the same time. The discomfort level drops dramatically, simply because I’m mobile.

There’s also the time factor of sitting and reading a long article – e.g. this one that Paul Ford linked to the other day. It was a fascinating article, about quantitative analysis of literature, and I was able to read it on the train and bus. I was taking the time I’d usually just spend pissing and moaning about Wellington’s 3rd world transport system, and constructively reading an interesting article on my PDA.

How else has my online routine changed now that I have a PDA? Here’s a summary of my read/write cycle currently:

1. Search for content: check RSS Aggregator (Bloglines) and/or do some Googling.

2. Copy/Save to PDA: For interesting articles, copy them to my PDA for reading later (or if I’m at work, email myself a list of URLs to copy to my PDA when I get home). NB: I’m not yet fully synched in a technological sense. A wireless connection is required – need a bluetooth-enabled phone? That would remove the “copy” component.

3. Read: Either on my PDA – at home, on the train, while running around after my 2-year old daughter, etc. I also read on the Web via a computer screen. At the moment, it’s about 50/50 PDA and PC. But I suspect I’ll be reading more from my PDA/mobile phone by end of 2004, once I get better equiped technically.

4. Write: two main options

a) Add to Linkblog: for found ideas worth preserving for posterity, but which I don’t necessarily want to blog about (I may end up writing about it later though).

b) Write an original article on Read/Write Web. For ideas of my own, or found ideas I want to explore further. I usually save info and notes in my PDA for weblog article prep. My PDA has taken over my paper notebooks in this respect. I sort of miss my scrawly dog-eared notebooks.

As with the reading, I have the potential to write more content on a PDA/mobile phone. I don’t think it would be Read/Write Web content though, as I typically write long posts requiring reflection and writing space. It’s not feasible or desirable to write long articles on an itty-bitty mobile device. But I can forsee my linkblog entries being automatically published via a PDA/phone with a wireless hook-up. And maybe I would start to post chunks of original microcontent onto Read/Write Web in future, in addition to my longer articles, if I had the mobile means to do it. I guess the proof will be in the pudding, later on in 2004 – the year that mobile blogging takes off?

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