Less computing - simplyfying life

November 21, 2020

I have programmed a simple tool to help me write and organize notes. It is less than 100 lines of code to create, edit, and delete plain text files, and automatically commit everything to git 1. I thought I had made life simple… and then I read on The Plain Text Project how William Hern lived his life inside a single plain text file.


Life could be simpler.

So, whenever I’m sitting behind the computer I take notes in a single plain text file. But I’ve found another way to simplyfy life even further: I’m living life inside an old fashioned notebook, you know, pen and paper!

I’m doing this because computers are rather inhumane. They might “give” us efficiency, but efficiency is the root of all evil 2. Efficiency is managerial speak. It does not belong in small-scale human/convivial activity.

Simplicity is often conflated with efficiency, but let’s not fool ourselves: efficiency is about doing the same thing over and over with minimal expenditure of energy and other resources. That might sound like a good thing, but it changes meaningful activity into industrial process. It degrades people into “operators”, and eventually into mere cogs of the ever growing industrial machine.

No, thank you!

  1. Git is source (or version) control software, which keeps track of changes accross multiple text files. I use it as a log of sorts.

  2. The actual saying is “Premature optimization is the root of all evil”, which can be attributed to Donald Knuth, who wrote that “The real problem is that programmers have spent far too much time worrying about efficiency in the wrong places and at the wrong times; premature optimization is the root of all evil (or at least most of it) in programming.”