The compact disc. It does not wear out, even when one uses it. That is terrible. As if one had never used it, as if one had never existed at all.
The original discussion, begun by member mcnicks, began with the statement, "I have come to the conclusion that email is bad for my health...". His reasons include email's efficiency (which allows people to dash off a note without thinking it through), email's promptness (which causes the sender to assume an immediate reply), and the general "problem" of our "instant on" world.
As the discussion progressed in the direction of "modern living" and the value of "lo-fi" solutions, mcnicks added:
...it is a symptom of modern living that we become detached from the world. There is something very immediate and physical about making a mark on a piece of paper or card: it tells us that we are actually here.
The same thing applies to PDAs, electronic mail, online calendars and todo lists: once we tick the item as completed or trash it, is there anything to tell us that the item ever existed or that the work was actually done? We should not underestimate the power and satisfaction to be gained from putting a line through a note on a bit of paper.
This was when he quoted Jean Baudrillard.
I've been trying to understand just how I feel about what I've read here; I talked the matter over with Rich. Both of us believe that many people feel the need to "leave their mark" on the world. Both of us would prefer to do so by creating something. The idea of feeling that one must cause damage to something (however insignificant) in order to feel alive is just... disturbing.
I don't believe that mcnicks, or the other forum members, are going quite that far. However, I don't personally feel that I need to see all of those "checked off" to-do list items at the end of the day to convince myself that I was present or that I did something. My sense of accomplishment comes from the doing, not from the feedback of the little checkmarks.
Going further, to me, this represent a large part of the value of electronic to-do lists. You don't have to create piles of paper covered with lists and check marks. You start a task, finish it, and remove it from the list. I know I did the work because I can see the accomplishment.
If I want to further log that I did something, I'll make an entry in my journal. That's how I want to "make my mark" — by creating, e.g., by writing, not by crossing out or wearing (things) out.