Week 131

Reflections on writing while disconnected.

Tethering, dodgy internet and (foreign-language) writing

Now that the long Berlin winter finally looks like it might be ending, I’m enjoying my sunny desk in Mitte. We’ve now got working internet here, but last week, Igor and Johannes were using their phones to provide internet for the office. I was connecting via Johannes’ phone, which meant that whenever he had to leave, I had no access to the internet anymore. This had the surprisingly helpful side effect of forcing me to do any work I could do without the internet in these blocks of time.

Having the internet off helped me to write with focus. I was working on a newsletter in German, and found that when I didn’t have constant access to LEO to help me find the right words for my thoughts, I was much more active and creative in cobbling together my sentences. Generally when I’m writing in German, I use a shortcut where I type “le [word]” into Alfred and it looks up the word on LEO. This is something I use fairly extensively, and I find now that I do it when I encounter even the slightest bit of mental resistance when looking for a word or phrase. When deprived of this auxiliary mind, I realized how much of the information I search for is already in my head, that I could use all the time, if only I looked for it. I found that writing the bulk of my piece first, leaving blanks for words I had to look up later, was much quicker than my usual internet-as-crutch method, and should also improve my active vocabulary.

Having no access to the usual distractors (mainly Twitter and its bounty of interesting links, really) also helped get texts written much more quickly than usual. Though I usually try to open interesting links only to save them to read them later, even the preliminary reading needed to decide whether to save a piece or not is disruptive (in the negative sense!). I try to remind myself that multitasking is horribly inefficient, but just how inefficient it is can only be made clear when the option is taken away from you. It made me realize how easy it is to interrupt a decent train of thought in favor of satisfying some momentary curiosity.

Author: Maddie

Maddie is a strategist and researcher. She spends much of her time on the think tank side of Third Wave, and enjoys getting into the details of many different topics at once. Through this foraging for information, she finds ways to apply knowledge from one field in new, seemingly disparate ones, both in client work and other research. She holds an interdisciplinary BA in Computer Science, Linguistics and German, and has previously worked at VCCP and at the Science Gallery in Dublin.