Written with: Lenovo office desktop PC | Crappy HP keyboard | Notepad | Windows 10

I work a desk job that involves a lot of typing. It's expected of me to spend most of my time on-the-clock looking into my work desktop office monitor, and typing on my work desktop office keyboard. Too much time spent looking at my personal, mobile phone screen, and typing on my personal, mobile touch screen keyboard, looks like someone slacking off (because that's exactly what I'm doing!).

Unfortunately, my smartphone and the social media services within have a gravitational pull, for reasons I'll make obvious in future blog posts if I haven't explored it sufficiently already. Of course, I don't feel agonised and heartbroken, swooping into the nearest fainting couch, over the unspeakably audacious accusation that I'm not paying attention at work. But I also realise that if I were to solve this by, say, logging onto Twitter on the work computer, and discretely checking the timeline when I should be working, this "solution" would come with additional problems. Partly, this is just down to security and privacy concerns: I hate the thought of people seeing something embarrassing served up on a social media timeline over my shoulder (again, unspeakably audacious to even imply that there would be anything untoward on my good Christian timeline); but also, I don't have total confidence in the security of my social media data, and the possibility of creating a digital link between my private and work life.

But additionally, I've been working for months (and trying more passively for much longer) to wean myself off contemporary social media. In particular, as this site will attest, I've been trying to spend more time doing good old fashioned blogging. Sure the internet has become a corporate cesspool of algorithms and monetised data, but I do like both writing and the internet; why not find a way to do that which doesn't feel like I'm poisoning my brain?

Until now, my blog writing (posted and unposted) has been relegated to my iPhone or iPad Mini, and Apple's simple but convenient Notes app. But for the reasons mentioned, it's less than ideal to pick up my phone and conspicuously goof off during work hours. So what if I just opened up a Notepad file at work and blogged in my breaks that way? Not only is it less lazy-looking, it also helps steer me away from social media distractions, because I simply don't have any social media set up on this computer.

There are a few fun side effects to this method of blogging. One is that I get to use my dear, trusted friend, the humble USB flash drive. My pint-sized USB 3.2 drive, which has both a USB type-A and type-C input, is personalised with an adorable keychain shaped like a morel mushroom. This is where I actually saved the simple text file into which I wrote this post (aside from some later minor revisions on my home computer). For some reason I adore these little USB drives - they may even get their own blog post at some point. One point in their favour is the novelty in having a specialised, physical object which correlates with a digital activity. Like an objet d'art, but instead an objet d'ordinateur - a computer object.

With this simple choice, my writing doesn't float vaguely in an abstract cloud belonging to a corporation, but sits snugly on a physical storage device, which I can plug into any computer in the world and continue using. Maybe it's the physical action of plugging a device into another device which makes it so satisfying, too; like putting a key in the ignition of a car (a rarer and rarer design option in cars these days) - or indeed using a key to power on a workstation computer. Revving up the computer's engine to cruise the information superhighway...I digress.

As I said before, I don't want people to see incriminating (if that's not too strong a word) posts over my shoulder. This is much less a concern when writing a simple blog post, where I'm in full control of what appears on my screen, but I dislike people watching me write no matter what the content itself is. Of course, I also want it to be in a small, discrete window so that I can alt+tab back to the document I'm supposed to be typing. The solution? At first I tried to ride with the default settings of Windows' built-in Notepad program. This still felt too readable, too easy to tell at a swift glance what I was doing (and that it wasn't work-related). So I clicked on View, found that there was a zoom-out hotkey (Ctrl+minus), and fiddled with it until I settled on 50%.

This is absolutely bloody ridiculously tiny. It's barely legible, even by me. But it was just legible enough, especially thanks to the default font in Notepad, Consolas, which is evidently very scaleable. I'm sure I could instead just set the font really small and work at a different zoom level, and I will experiment with that, but for now...eh. It means working in the default setup of a program that's pre-installed on the vast majority of the world's computers, with only a quick hotkey press to get things to the level I want.

It also has the fun side effect of making me feel like a Medieval monk scribing a beautiful illustrated manuscript for the hundredth time, and goofing off by painting ridiculous cartoons in the margins, of demon frogs playing trumpets with their asses or whatever. I'm not penning the next great novel in these little Notepad blog posts; I'm strictly doing it for leisure, and without any expectations of formal rigour or grand purpose. But those margin illustrations offer a fascinating insight into the lives and minds of people a thousand years ago, arguably more compelling than the work they were supposed to be doing - and I'd stand up for what I'm doing here as having equivalent value, whether or not my life is as interesting or historically valuable as a Medieval monk's.

What's more, this ties into something I've been thinking about a lot lately: how form affects both the experience of creating something, and the content that is created.

I want to start a standardised format for the start of my blog posts where I make it clear what medium I'm typing on: the application, the operating system, the machine, the interface device. Rather than stick it in the tags as a minor footnote, I'd like it to be at the forefront of the reader's mind that each post is not just neutral text created in a vacuum; the way it was made adds context. I have no idea if this would actually change how people read my writing, or lead to unexpected or interesting patterns as I write more; it's just the principle of being transparent about the way things are created on computers.

I just need to decide on an order in which to list those different traits (again: computer, operating system, application, interface device) which looks good and feels natural. Of course there's no "best" way to do it, but I want something arbitrary yet satisfying so it feels consistent.

Thanks for reading this experiment! I'm not sure if I'll keep writing this way, but it's nice to have the option on slower days. If anything, the biggest hurdle is not ruining my back by sitting in a chair typing all day, but I'm workin on that too. Catch you in the next post!