A question for Genevieve Bell, Intel

Driving into town on Monday, end of January, I caught the Sunday Profile on Genevieve Bell, Intel’s anthropologist, on Radio National.  It was great to hear the story of how she left of her trajectory in academia, and took another path. With Intel, she looks at how people live, and what role the tools in their life play, digital and otherwise. She described researching what people have in their cars – I have a clear image of my car with its contents laid out on black plastic, and me explaining how each item got there.

I looked around the web for an email address for Genevieve, without success.On the way, I found video with her at at Intel, with this marvellous observation: “Curiosity is not just about observing things, it’s about being changed by them.”

In the end, not finding an address for her, I sent a request to connect via LinkedIn, and I hope she will find her way to this question: Genevieve: what’s happening with hand-written lists?

I observe that I’m taking to written lists more, not less. My favoured format is an A4 piece of paper folded in four. I can keep several lists on the one piece of paper: things I have to buy next time I’m at the supermarket, and another list for hardware, my to-do list for current work, and my to-do list for around the property. This lasts me for about 5 days, and there’s even room for ideas that come to me when I’m working in the garden, or driving.

I’ve come to feel that my embrace of the written list is because when I write my list, consult my list, cross things off my list, I hold my life in my own hands.

I do this digitally, of course, moving my life around with my fingertips, clinging onto some sense of agency while battered by other people’s ways of organising what’s important. My file manager, my web browser, my email program.  Hard work, all these hard logics.P1090197


As I take out my floppy piece of paper, crowded with notes, and add to it, or cross things off, or check what I remembered in the middle of the night I must do this morning, first thing, I hold my life in my own hands, and the organisation of my life evolves with great flexibility. Then I put my list in my pocket, and get on with it.