My Digital Life

About 2 years ago, it started officially happening. My paper trail was dissolving. I had relied on a paper calendar for years. I don’t remember how it happened now, but I realized I needed the ability to schedule myself from any browser, and make repeated appointments. Google calendar is now an essential tab in my life.

My to-do list also was shredded. I have casual jots in Simplenote, as well as long lists (what to bring for LA), and life goals. If I want to remember something while I’m reading it, screenshot. If I want to remember something while I’m looking at it, snap a photo.

With Gmail’s Priority Inbox, and the iPhone’s improved search functionality, I keep only a few emails in my inbox, with the action items of the day starred. For better or worse, personal and work email goes to the same place.

I haven’t been able to go completely digital, though. While a lot of my work involves data analysis and writing, a large part of it is still jotting notes, making sketches, and writing out equations longhand. My official work to do list is still a few sheets of paper on my desk, and I have a lab notebook. Of course, anything final gets a digital version, but it is an issue I can’t overcome. Also, my raw data files are so large that I can’t have my project folders on the cloud (yet?). So data has to stay local.

At one point a long time ago, I tried to use the app Papers to keep track of literature. This has mostly failed. The papers for which I have digital copies are random and in random folders. I still print most things I want to read. I haven’t figured this out, though in principle it seems easy. Maybe it’s because I like to highlight and take notes. Maybe it’s because I feel like I’m too far behind. Maybe the organizational scheme seems daunting.

As far as other files, Dropbox has proven indispensable. Almost all of my personal and work-ish (basically anything that’s not experimental data and analysis files) I have instant access to. Google Drive seems to have improved recently; I need to figure out whether to use this more regularly. I definitely need to organize the files there at some point…right now it’s a dump of files that were mostly shared with me.

Unfortunately with Dropbox, I don’t have enough space to store my music collection. I don’t know why I would really need this all the time, but I think it would be comforting to have a copy everywhere. The computer my phone/ipod syncs to stays at home. I carry a Macbook Air with me, which is great, but doesn’t have near enough storage.

I was an early adopter of Amazon and Amazon Prime. But I was not using it efficiently. My Amazon cart had served as some sort of dumping ground for desires, half-desires, and things I was intrigued by.

I’ve reorganized. My Amazon cart is reserved for music only. Books I might want to read are sampled on my Kindle. Pinterest serves as the new file system for half-desires, major purchases, pantry items, and curios.

A podcasting app keeps me automatically up-to-date for my commute.

I have several websites for journaling purposes, though get more and more grossed out by the Blogger layout whenever I come from a WordPress site.

Speaking of websites, I have used Reader for about a year now, and now don’t know what to do when it expires in July! TBD. I never ever got into bookmarks, probably because I always spent so much time hopping from computer to computer. But with Reader and the links on my website, I have managed to patch them together. If something is worth caring about but not worth “bookmarking,” I can often find another digital home for it, even if it’s just a pdf saved to my Dropbox. Occasionally I might (shhhh) print something out.

I still haven’t found the time to organize my photos, but at least now I try to put albums on Facebook with some regularity. I’m one of the rare ones who wants my mom to join FB, so I don’t have to go through some convoluted sharing process.

I also now have what might generously be called a Twitter presence, too. For me FB is personal, and Twitter is for following people and getting some people to read my stuff. The occasional joke. I don’t know if I can deal with Twitter being the new norm, since that’s what the kids are doing. And I like having separate Twitter and FB spheres. I really am hooked to the visual nature of FB. I don’t necessarily see the point of Instagram. Maybe I will someday/I am an old. I sorta get the point of Tumblr but can’t be bothered yet.

I’ve also signed up for Mint, and it’s nice it automatically tracks things. But I can’t say I use the tools. Every once in awhile I just look at it. Maybe a worthy next digital goal?

Oh, and ladies, if nothing else, get a period tracker app. I’m pretty sure this is why smartphones exist.


Online Presence

For those keeping track at home, I am maintaining or contributing to several sites now.
A new site that is starting out with material developed by my students this Spring. I envision it as a space where people can share their lesson plans or demonstration ideas for physics concepts. Most of the content currently is aimed at elementary school students, but it’s all fair game. The only rule: it must involve demonstration and discussion.
A site to which I am contributing regularly. I’m attempting to have polished pieces posted there.
My online CV.

This blog
Will still be a place where I write my ideas or rough pieces. I’ll also sometimes link to my work elsewhere for archival purposes. I hope to start using it more often for personal stuff (aka travel journal).