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New Yorker Article: Can "Distraction-Free" Devices Change the way we write?

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Posted by Amontillado
Jun 10, 2022 at 12:11 AM


I agree, a fun read, quite a bit more so than most articles about the pursuit of distraction free devices.

My Alphasmart Neo was a way to write on a small sailboat without fear of dropping a thousand dollar Macbook overboard. It worked fine at anchor, but spent most of its long battery life at lunch, in my truck in parking lots, anywhere I was with a moment to write.

Some immunity to distraction by features is possible. I don’t use Word so I can’t speak for its distraction free mode. It sounds like how I often write, with toolbars and other edit window features turned off in my word processor.

Fonts aren’t something I mess with while writing. Appearance needs to be set in styles, not willy-nilly. That realization came when I was participating in two writers groups, each with their own strict ideas of document formatting. All I had to do was load the right style set to have the right appearance for a group.

You can do that with Scrivener’s compile feature. I found that the style sets supported by word processors like Mellel and Nisus were what I needed.

That article very much rang true. I had a Freewrite. I found it just after their Kickstarter campaign closed, and before their web site revealed certain details like no editing. And you couldn’t delete a file, a feature I think was added later. I gave my Freewrite away.

Thanks for the link!