How much is enough?

Today’s journalists have access to several tools to perform their craft. These include a digital recorder, maybe a camera, and of course a computer and word processing software.

Replace the computer and word processing software with a typewriter and the recorder with a pencil and reporter’s notebook, and little has changed for more than 100 years. Any way you slice it, journalists need a means to capture facts and then a means to put words on a page.

That’s why it was interesting to read Blogger/author/columnist Matthew Stibbe’s recent review of the HP Z1 all-in-one workstation. A nice computer, to be sure, and Stibbe does a fine job reviewing what is undoubtedly a machine that any of us would be happy to have on our desks.

The problem is he preludes his video on his blog Bad Language with the following:

“If you want a kick-*** PC for writing, this is it. I’m seriously in love.”

A kick-butt PC for writing? Sounds great. This PC is fast. It is wireless, and it is all contained in a case the size of a pizza box.

But what makes it so great for writing?

We live in an age in which bigger and faster are always assumed to be better. However, writing is a simple act. In fact, it’s one of the simplest things you can do on a computer. If you go to any online computer retailer and look at their most expensive, most powerful computers, they’ll advertise them as good for thing like video editing and gaming.

By contrast, if you look at the same online computer vendor’s low-end, inexpensive PCs, you’ll find them advertised as being good for e-mail and word processing. That’s because word processing is a very simple task for a computer compare to editing HD video or playing high-speed video games. It’s the computer equivalent of the one-foot putt or the slam dunk.

So why do you need this mega-computer to for writing? Good question. Homer wrote the Odyssey on papyrus; Hemingway used a typewriter. Did they need a kick-*** computer to inspire them to literary heights?

What truly inspires a writer to write well—even to the level of a world-class author—is not his or her tools, but their imagination, their creativity, their willingness to bare their souls to the world…maybe even a good bottle of Scotch and a thousand things other than how good their computer is.

Remember, the purpose of a gadget like a whiz-bang computer is to create something. If you own a gadget for gadget’s sake, then maybe it’s time to reevaluate whether you’ve bought a computer to use as a tool—or a toy!

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