Just Seven Things

Exploring why and how we do what we do, and how we can do it better

Simple Feelings of Control

As mentioned in a previous post on the simplicity of the human brain in certain respects, I loved David Allen’s Getting Things Done from the moment when he identified that the foundation stone of effectiveness was a trusted system.

Since then, I’ve remained aware of the simple things that give a sense of control and a form of happiness because of that control.

Technopolis in the FT is a regular ‘(normally) expensive gadget’ review feature in the How to Spend It supplement magazine by Jonathan Margolis. Last weekend he featured two items which triggered my thinking again about the aspects of control.

One was a box called ‘The Sanctuary’ and the other, the less mysteriously named ‘Trekstor Datastation Microdisk’. Now this isn’t turning into a gadget review blog. Mr Margolis said they did their business. The business of The Sanctuary is to be a smart/ modern version of the bowl/ dish/ plate/ little area on the kitchen surface/ bookshelf/ bedside where you put your bits: keys/ money/ wallet or purse etc. It’s a £100 box. But it connect to the mains and has adapters for most mobiles/ PDAs and other battery-powered personal gadgets. So you come in and put your stuff into one place.

The Trekstor data station is a hard drive the size of a thick credit card. But up to 120gb (enough for about 100 films). No external power and high speed transfer via USB 2.0.

Mr Margolis rates them as two of the best things that he has come across in his 20yrs of ‘gadgeteering’. And why?

Because they give him more control over his life. The box makes sure that his stuff is in one place and ready to use when he’s ready to leave the house. The hard drive enables him to carry around his ‘digital life’ as well as providing a way of controlling his down time. As he says ‘…..a phobia like mine – a fear of being stuck somewhere with nothing to do except watch films – …. (now) contains all the films I will never watch’

And I don’t think this is an overstatement. When I think of the very few objects that seem to increase the long-term/ ambient level of utility in my life, they tend to enable me to control another aspect of my life. My iPod enables me to have all my music where I. My expensive running jacket enables me to control my relationship with the elements. If it’s a thunderstorm (barring the risk of lightning) I can run regardless.

Yes, there are other aspects than ‘control utility’: (performing well/ robustness/ quality), but when I think about it they tend to be secondary to what the object enables me to have control over…. thoughts?

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