Funny how they say history tends to repeat itself. As always the old becomes new and technology no matter how much it moves forward doesn’t always seem to get away from this idiom. In thousands of offices all around the world there are billions of widget makers struggling every day to figure out simple and easy as ways to communicate via the written word. Unfortunately, most of them assume the only answer is the modern word processor.
Now there was a time when the word processor meant a 20 pound device with the really small screen and a not quite detachable keyboard. Like a typewriter minus the White Out. As computers came into play one the first issues ever tackled was a good word processing solution that could replace the the electronic typewriter and single tasking electronic word processors of the day.
This was a fine and dandy solution up until there was some bifurcation of formats between WordPerfect, which was the giant of word processors at the time and Microsoft Word. Microsoft Word at that time was oddly enough the new kid on the block. /little did we know that soon it would take over the world and be the planet’s go to word processor. I personally am not a big fan of Microsoft Word mostly because it has grown into a large program without any usable features added since about Word 6 (Office 4.2). However, as more and more people buy Microsoft Word the need for Word compatibility continues to grow. The odd thing is the majority of the people who use Microsoft Word only use it as a glorified electronic typewriter.
Most of the people using Microsoft Word are not using the features that require such a large program. In fact almost all of them basically need a simple easy-to-use text editor with spellcheck. I would say about 90% of the people who use Microsoft Word are really using the comparable feature set of WordPad or TextEdit.
Knowing this to be true I have personally boycotted the modern word processor and continue to write all of my communications in my generic text editor. My text editor of choice is TextMate, however there are a slew of other options on the market both free and paid for all platforms available including the modern smartphone.
So what does this all mean? It means that I’m going to be putting together a series of articles and tutorials that will teach people how to go back to the text editor as their word processor of choice. Thus eliminating the need for costly programs that hog up gigabytes of data on your hard drive, drain your battery, eat up lots of processing power to sit idle and require proprietary data formats. Yes I’m talking about Microsoft Word but this also includes iWork and a bunch more.
I’d like to give a shout out to my friend Brett Terpstra who will be providing some of the tools that I used to get a lot of work done via simple text editing. If you’re fanatical notetaker or just person that loves the store tidbits of information I highly suggest you check out NVAlt which is Brett’s Fork of Notational Velocity.
I also want to give a shout out to John Garcia for his #Progressis social media campaign for giving me the inspiration to write this post and begin this series of tutorials that I’ll be producing concerning better living through text. Progress is going back to the simple text editor as a way of communicating better, faster, stronger.
photo by: Â Marcin Wichary