I was writing a note on my phone today, picturing how I would like my life to look in six months. And it made me think: simply being able to take notes any where, at any time is a tremendous boon to humanity.
Sure, some people carried around notebooks and notepads before. But there’s nothing like the ubiquity of the smartphone and the ability to easily add writing to an organized collection. Writing has such great potential. It helps us keep track of our ideas and form new ideas. A journal, a list of ideas for blog posts, a bucket list, anything. All at our hands, always, thanks to our smartphones.
Of course, smartphones also present unprecedented opportunity for distraction. They give us previously unimaginable possibilities for creation, as well as for mindless consumption. I’ve noticed that the apps on my phone that involve creation are more rewarding than those that provide consumption. I don’t have negative feelings about using them. It’s hard to mindlessly, excessively create, I’ve found. While it’s very easy to mindlessly over-consume.
So we need creation to always be getting easier to shift the balance towards creation. Every technological advancement that makes it easier or more fun to transform our thoughts into some kind of external object, whether it’s writing, drawing, video, or something else, opens up more human potential. Easy diagramming tools. Outlining apps. Effortless linking and organization of notes (see Roam). Super accurate speech recognition. I imagine it becoming normal to take voice notes at any moment, even with other people around. Far more raw thoughts being recorded, and then refined and turned into world-changing innovations.
As humans, our creativity, our brains, are a precious, unique asset. Tools for recording, revising and organizing our thoughts give us superpowers. They power human progress. And we’re living in a golden age of tools for thought.