Paper vs Digital: The Ultimate Dilemma – The Schedule [multi-part] Part 2

Paper vs Digital: The Ultimate Dilemma – The Schedule [multi-part] Part 2

Last time [in Part 1] we looked at defining our terms and got a little into the history of why anyone would ask such a question. I also started out pointing out one of the first problems of a digital schedule and it is one that should not be a problem. Unity. If you use multiple devices and locations then it is hard to keep things synced and unified. One solution to this is pretty simple… Keep everything in one place that you have with you always [cough]your phone[/cough].

Today, however, it is time to look at some of the more serious issues that digital scheduling might pose. Including privacy concerns, backups, and access. Access is related to what we talked about last week but it is not the same. With that said let’s start with access.

* Side note I wrote 90% of this 3 years ago

Access:

Can You Get Your Schedule When Needed?

Innocent enough question right? But I have some more innocent questions to go with this one. Such as what if your phone battery dies? What if that happens and you don’t have your laptop with you? etc… However, in today’s environment, it seems if one lets their phone die they are likely irresponsible… Now before you burn me at the stake these are not the words of someone that would judge you as irresponsible, but rather that it is my observation from letting my phone die on occasion that is what many others think. Now I don’t do that.

Before I take this too far down the wrong path the point is about access. Can you get your schedule when you need it? Can you make changes quickly and succinctly in a way that doesn’t interrupt? For the most part, this is not a big deal and most people are fine in today’s society just whipping their phones out and making changes in the middle of a conversation. As for access, I don’t have much of a leg to stand on here for claiming this to be a real issue. Most people have access whenever they want.

The overarching truth here is a simple one. Digital with all of it’s issues can in general be easier to access. The way we live our always-connected lives now I’m willing to bet you have your phone within arms reach. I’m also willing to bet that rarely changes throughout the day. As a matter of fact my actual bet here is you are more likely to forget your keys or wallet than your cell phone. I know I am.

Privacy Concerns:

Who Really Has Access?

Coming off a bit about when you have access what about others? Here things get a little more interesting… Your schedule is not something you often think of as being overly private. For me I have in the past wished my family or others would look at my schedule just so I could hear them say “man your busy” or “wow, good job”… LOL at that notion; we are all busy.

The truth is when it comes to our co-workers, friends, and family letting them have access to what we have going on can be a good thing. It can help keep us from overbooking and limit requests when we already are close to being overbooked. But what I am talking about here is the scare word every security professional runs to hackers. I’m sure most of us wouldn’t care all too much if some kid in Burkina Faso looked at our schedules, but what if instead they went in and deleted things? Or possibly worse added things you were avoiding?

Calendar Event that says, "Bunny PJs Time!" at 12 am. Looks like someone is messing with me.

Calendar Spam It’s All The New Rage

* Thank goodness this little practice went away quickly. I’m sure it still happens, but thankfully I haven’t had to deal with it much.

What if instead you just found random inserts into your calendar and the best part is they are from people you don’t know?

Calendar event to buy some Ray-ban&Oakley Sunglasses Online.... Spam calendar event from someone I didn't want to get it from!

Fears aside. You can relax in knowing whatever problems you run into it is a little bit easier to do things like have a ‘Family Holiday Calendar’ shared across everyone so people can organize and visit. I know I wouldn’t want to miss a free meal so now with this feature I can pack in 1 to 2 extra Thanks Giving helpings LOL

Competitive Advantages

Let’s take things wholly different direction for just a moment and say that it was a business competitor that gained access to your calendar. I could imagine how funny you might find it if you suddenly found a lot of appointments you had with business clients were moved to say 1hr away from their original location. Then your lovely competitor just needs to show up to take your place.

This wouldn’t work under a lot of real-world conditions, but you really could ruin someone’s reputation at least for the short term simply by deleting a bunch of meetings, deadlines, or other appointments. However, I say short term because most people are going to pretty quickly stop trusting their phone and start writing things down.

Really what I’m getting at here is I think having a system to meet with people or follow-up with a client for business is a must. * (Some New York hot shot is wondering if I’m from Bedrock and my last name is Flintstone) I’ve learned since I wrote this how normal this is in a lot of different businesses. One of my favorite new sayings I learned for a New Yorker is, “why weren’t you here yesterday?” Although, I’m not going to live that way.

Backups:

What If The World Power Grid Fails?

hhhmmmm

What If The Internet Fails?

again hhhmmmm

The point of these 2 questions should be obvious. They won’t happen, and if they did you have bigger problems than missing your scheduled 40 min of watching The Office before bed. Proper use of today’s digital calendars pretty much ensures you are not going to lose anything. Which brings up some interesting points I will explore in the future.

I have a post ready that starts in on the paper side of things, and once we are done looking at schedules I have several posts about notes, and then pictures and video. I plan to update links as I go.

Paper vs Digital: The Ultimate Dilemma – The Schedule [multi-part] Part 1

Paper vs Digital: The Ultimate Dilemma – The Schedule [multi-part] Part 1

What I Mean. Defining: Paper vs Digital

Paper – better said as analog this represents the more or less “real” things in our lives that we work or interact with. This could be as simple as writing your schedule out or reading a book (printed on paper) from the library. This could be as complex as personal interactions with “real” people in the “real” world or taking a plane to fly halfway around the world.

Digital – this is all of the electronics in our lives. While it is easy to conceptualize it is kind of hard to describe (at least for me). Using the examples from the paper the digital versions would be using outlook for your schedule, reading an e-book, interacting on Facebook (or any social network), and using YouTube or another method to take a virtual vacation.

Some History (my bias as I understand it)

Digital will solve many of the problems we have, however sometimes the biggest problem is identifying what should be solved now. If you think about it digital is awesome and holds lots of promise such as unified scheduling, easier access to information, smoother communication, and access to virtual worlds, be it, representations of the real world or completely new ones we imagine. I think these things sound awesome and this is only the tip of the iceberg. They represent a few small things that were easy for me to gather a little information about and easily make comparisons.

My experience was that technology failed me.

To get a clear picture of how I feel on this issue you need to realize that I have been one pushing for the “digital” for a very long time. I have tried using an electronic pocket scheduler from young an age as 8 or so, and back then they were these credit card sized plastic devices that usually had a flip cover and then a full keyboard and a “screen” or rather display about the size you would find on most microwaves. Some of them were a little different with larger screens or dot matrix displays instead of the digit type (correctly called seven-segment display). Most of them were handy enough. I bet I could find one in a junk box. I brought these up to start with as an example of a major fail.

First Attempts with Digital Organizers

I didn’t have one as nice as in this picture, but you can get the idea. This was one of my first experiences with relying on technology in a meaningful way (outside of all the things we take for granted), and by meaningful I mean telling me what homework was due or when a friend’s birthday was. My experience was that technology failed me. Batteries would die–data would be lost, I would press the wrong button–data would be lost, I would lose one–data would be lost. At some point, I started doing the next reasonable thing. I would keep the paper I wrote all the information down on to organize things before I would enter it into the organizer.

By the time High School rolled around I dropped the electronic version and got myself a bonified Day Planner. Remember this was before every kid walking around had a cell phone and even when they did they were not that smart. Things were good. Now fast forward through many years of switching back and forth, and I find myself where I am today. Trying to evaluate which things truly are better digital and what things just aren’t. This has raised a lot of questions for me more than answers.

Some Problems with Digital Schedules

I think it should be clear by now that to me there is no clear definition or guidance on what things I should digitize and what things I should not. The best example comes back to scheduling again. Recently I have started getting a little more into my schedule and trying to lock things down so that I am able to get more things done and still spend more time with my wife. Sounds easy and great… Except it hasn’t been. The funny thing about all this is just a few years ago it was actually easier.

When I would build my schedule on my phone or on Outlook things would sync up and the world would be right. This includes syncing with Google Calendar which ultimately meant if I looked at my computer, phone, or tablet (PC, iPhone, or Android) I could see the same schedule that I had to only enter once. It was awesome. Then somewhere along the lines, I ran into a problem where things were getting duplicated, then one system stopped syncing with the other. My option at the time was to move everything to my phone and work from that.

Our First Major Issue

A few weeks ago when I was trying to figure out how to sync my Outlook with my phone and tablet again I came across a really cool technical article (I will link to it when I find it again or if anyone can find it please comment below) that explained the timeline of how The Big Three (Apple, Google, and Microsoft) decided they each wanted to own the market for people interested in shared scheduling but to do so it mean each user need to exclusively own only one of The Big Three’s devices. You need to be an Apple Household, Google Fanboy, or Microsoft dinosaur if you wanted your schedule to sync across your PC/Mac, phone, and tablet. No picking and choosing.

This brings to light our first issue about digital…

Often the technologies we rely on are controlled by third parties interested directly in other things than our simple happiness or ease of use.

Now as it stands so far we have only talked about digital scheduling and we have not given it many positive attributes. I may add to this in the future, but next time I will try to talk about the positive side of digital scheduling.