Nothing says a fresh start like a new computer. My Microsoft Surface recently developed a known intermittent screen jitter plus the USB port stopped working, thankfully with a few months remaining on the warranty. So when my kid added a new computer to the Christmas list, I figured it was a good opportunity to pick up the latest hardware and send the old one in for a replacement I can pass on to my next of kin.

I write this in reflection as I spend my Saturday copying files, installing software, and entering passwords. Watching files copy over gives me time to consider how much I view the world through the lens of the screen. Finances, news, conversations, art, and entertainment are all consumed and broadcast through this glass interface.

This is dramatically different to the world a few short decades ago. I learned to program in octal through a large mainframe computer on a nuclear powered submarine in the US Navy. Since then we have seen computing move to desktops, laptops, handhelds, wrists, VR and AR glasses, and eventually embedded technology. Our point in time now is simply a stepping stone in a continuum towards technology embedded direct to our brains.

The drivers of this progression are the same that push most technology advancement: a need for instant gratification. The combination of ease of rapid consumption and exponentially increasing content means we will seek out new ways to get more, faster, at higher quality.

Changing computers at the end of the year is timely. My screen to the world gets cluttered over time. My desktop gets littered with files quickly saved for later reference. Random folders called “To sort” and “Temp backup” litter my file structure from previous attempts to clean my digital house. My Word and Excel programs keep asking of I want to save a growing list of Document Recovery files from various system crashes. Random icons from past trials of productivity programs sit in my Quickstart bar, waiting to be uninstalled when I find time from being more productive.

Like heading into a New Year with resolve, I set up my computer with the intent to keep this one clean. But I wonder how this will work when the computer is inside of us. Will we be able to simply reboot our operating system at the end of the year and do a reset? Will the clutter of our internal desktop files reinforce and reflect the clutter of thoughts?

Anyways, that is next decade’s problem. For now, here’s to a collective clean desktop to reflect focused thoughts and a clear perspective heading into 2018.

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