i've taken a major step backwards in my increasingly high-tech life.
After months of disappointments, memory losses and missed appointments, I erased the memory on my Palm Pilot and switched from digital back to paper.
Unswayed by ads for Visor's iMac-ish 2001 Handsprings, with its optional cellphone, modem and digital camera add-ons, I finally copied my contacts and daily schedule from my hand-held to my decidedly no-tech daily organizer, took out the batteries and stuck the Pilot in the closet with my broken CD player, crackly headphones, the lamp that doesn't come on any more and other bits of failed technology.
For months now, I've been trying to make this work. The idea of being entirely mobile, with my office crammed into a cassette-sized computer, is very appealing. Anything that allows me to work outside rather than in an office is a good thing. Also interesting was the idea of having the same information on my computers at home, in my office and in my pocket.
I bought the hot-sync cables to back up my Palm Pilot and was furiously conflating schedules and address books. After a few weeks, I'd even mastered the Pilot's peculiar graffiti text, where random scrawls on the screen translate into actual words.
What was missing, though, was the bizarre sense of permanence I get from writing things down in a book. I'm not the kind of person who wanders around taking notes and scribbling things down, but as someone who schedules things and then promptly forgets what's coming up on Wednesday of next week, I found that I wasn't writing enough things down in my Pilot. Instead, I was simply e-mailing myself the information and phone numbers, from home to office and office to home.
Another gripe: there was nowhere for me to put the dozens of sticky notes and pieces of scrap paper that I accumulate every day.
For me, owning a Palm Pilot was sort of like being eight and having a watch with a calculator on it. For a while it's neat to be able to crunch numbers right there on your forearm. Eventually, though, you just want something that tells you what time it is.
It's probably worth noting that this isn't a retreat into a shuttered, Luddite lifestyle. I seem to buy a new computer every 15 months, and am as "connected" as possible right now, with five different e-mail addresses and a cellphone that never seems to leave my hip.
I will probably drag the Palm Pilot back out of the closet and give it another chance. Nosediving dot-coms aside, high tech shouldn't be counted out so easily.
Right now, though, my only regret is that I waited so long to do this. Have you ever tried to buy an appointment book five months into the year?