Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Inefficiency of Efficiency

I am unable to work without two computers. I mean, I can get stuff done, and I can complete my daily tasks one a single laptop, and often have. But if I really want to crank out work and research, I need two. Maybe three. One machine for writing and email, one for Web browsing and research, and still a third for a constant stream of AIM, IRC, forums and music.
Sure, all of these could be done on the same machine, but it's just easier to look over at the screen next to me and immediately see if anyone has responded to my questions in IRC, or to see how a name is spelled on a company Website.
Switching between programs is always a pain, and on space-constrained laptops, it's not an option to spread things out to a viewable distance.
And yet, with all these computers on my desk, there is still one major problem I have yet to solve reliably: passing around URLs and quotes. Right now, I use AIM for this. I past the URL into one of my AIM screennames on the desktop machine, and message the info to another screenname on the laptop. That simple URL then travels thousands of miles to Virginia, where it is parsed and directed by AOL's servers, and sent back here to Oakland.
These computers are so close, they could touch. And yet, here I am, using the Internet as a router for my simple textual information. If I wasn't using one of each type of operating system (Mac, Windows, Ubuntu) there might be an easier solution. But until there is a cross-platform messaging standard that doesn't require a central hosted service, I will continue to use millions of dollars worth of infrastructure to accomplish tasks I could just as easily apply a sticky note and a pen to.

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