Gadgets and gizmos: which pieces of technology most benefit your life as a writer?
I love my Griffin iTalk. It’s a mini voice recorder that plugs into the top of my iPod and makes it a doddle to record interviews, conversations and Important Thoughts.
I discovered (by accident) that the humble and ubiquitous Nokia 6300 synchronises with Microsoft Outlook. Now, at last, I have a portable and constantly up-to-date diary again, having dispensed with the hand-written variety many years ago in favour of an on-screen version.
I suppose I benefit as a writer from the joy I take in writing on my PowerBook. It looks good, feels good and is a charm to use. It’s the 21st-century equivalent of a gorgeous fountain pen. And I never get distracted by little annoyances, like I frequently do on a PC. (Or maybe I’m just biased.)
I’ve been using Dragon Naturally Speaking voice recognition software for about three months. I injured my neck doing too much writing and this has helped a load. You have to teach it to recognise your voice but that doesn’t take long. Occasionally it goes bonkers* and I’m not sure I’d use it in a crowded office, but I’m delighted with it. *I wrote “relaxing ylang ylang oil is said to promote feelings of joy”. It wrote “relaxing ylang ylang oil is said to promote feelings of Geordie”.
I don’t have an i-Phone, a Blackberry, a Tom Tom satnav (despite cool name), a Bluetooth, an Xbox or even a Wii console, but my PowerBook has become a kind of alter ego. It’s gradually morphing into me (or the other way round), and like me, sinks into occasional sulks, conks out for no apparent reason, needs constant TLC, but bursts into life every morning ready for another day’s work. However, the really astonishing technology that encapsulates human ingenuity – is the book. Invented over 700 years ago, it has never been improved upon. It requires no power, no LCDs, no USBs, no FireWires or firewalls, no maintenance at all, and you don’t even have to scan it through airport security. No need to constantly update the software either, but every time you come back to it you return a little wiser and a bit more clued-up so I guess that’s the equivalent. No matter how badly you abuse it, deface it, rubbish it, abandon it, forget it, or skip bits of it, it’s always there for you with an unconditional love.
My Smythson notebook, which is almost as expensive an indulgence as something with an integrated circuit in it, fits in any pocket or bag and hasn’t yet broken down.