Zenware, and the art of clear thinking

Susi Weaser Tech

There’s a new movement online, and it’s all about focus. Inevitably, we’ve reached the stage where technology is so advanced, and the internet so goddamn massive, that we’re finding it hard to filter out the relevant from the irrelevant. Concentrating on the task at hand is tough, without getting distracted by various IM messages and calendar reminders.

Personally, I find it very difficult to ignore the new email icon that pops up on my toolbar. If I was practicing the new computer art of zen, however, turning that reminder off would be the first thing on my To Do list.

This new movement is spawning a whole host of new programs, designed to focus the mind – Zenware.

Thanks to Slate, I’m now currently using one such piece of Zenware, called Clutter Cloak. This blacks out the majority of your screen, except for the area that your cursor is hovering over. That means that whilst I’m writing this post, I can’t see the tab with my email number on it, which I check every time I see the unread email number go up, I can’t see the Skype programme, updating me on contacts, and I’m not tempted to start formatting this stuff half way through.

And I have to say, I think it’s brilliant.

It’s surprising how much easier it is to concentrate when the distractions are taken away. Or perhaps it’s not surprising, but is blindingly obvious. Perhaps that’s it.

It’s also taking the form of some decidedly lo-fi applications. Dark Room for PC and Write Room for Mac are text editors you can use instead of something like Word. All the formatting options are hidden off screen, and you’re just left with a black screen and green cursor/text with which to write. It’s just like being in 1993.

There’s something weirdly circular about the direction this is heading in. Should this take off, we may all be finding ourselves foregoing light bulbs for candles and dumping email for good old letter writing. I may also be forced to take up a job as one of those newspaper writer-type people. Or worse, town crier.

Susi Weaser is the editor of Shiny Shiny, and is now 100% more focussed than she was before

By Susi Weaser | January 28th, 2008

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