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When Does Low-Tech Work Better For You?

Josh Farkas

This post is by Josh Farkas, who wrote for the site in 2010. - Evan
Josh Farkas

I received my Droid X this week, which I think everyone can agree is somewhere near, if not the top, of mobile technological achievement (I’m willing to share the spot with the iPhone 4, but it’s worth pointing out that mine makes calls with or without a case).  The device is truly a testament to what humanity has been able to achieve.  For $99 plus tax, after rebates, I now own a piece of metal, plastic and silicon that more or less fits in my pocket and serves as: a phone; a camera; an HD video camera; a DVR; a music player; a computer; an organizer . . . You get the idea – crazy good technology.  I’ll talk more about it, Android apps, my transition from a Blackberry and an iPhone and more in the future, but holding this marvel of modern technology makes me wonder – what happened to low-tech?

Image by mthomps00.

Don’t get me wrong.  I have always been and will always be obsessed with technology.  One of my son’s first words came when we were walking through an Apple store and he pointed to a table of devices and said “iPod.”  However, I can’t help but think about the fact that: Gandhi's low-tech solution of non-resistance triumphed over the most advanced military in the world; Genghis Khan’s technology that allowed him to rule all of Asia was a decidedly low-tech horse; and you can find any number of solutions on-line about how to cook a pizza with some foil and about $3 (yes I just included Gandhi, Genghis Khan and a DIY pizza oven in the same super long sentence).

In short, low-tech solutions and tools have brought us to this point in time, but most people picture a device that needs to be plugged in or charged when they hear the word technology. So earlier this week I set about to determine what is the best low-tech approach or device that I use on a regular basis.  After ruling out the standard stuff like pens and paper I decided that it is my razor.  I would argue that the five-bladed razor, with the “precision trimmer” on the back, that I used to own is fairly high-tech (it’s got six blades!), but in the last 2 months I have simplified to a safety razor and it has made quite a difference.

Up until two months ago I would watch the news while rushing through a shave on my way to the closet for a dress shirt and I was out the door.  Now if I rush or even get distracted there’s a good chance that I’ll grab the blade wrong when I’m loading it into the razor head, or move the razor wrong and cut myself.  The fact that this is a possibility and that I am putting it to my jugular has forced me to slow down and focus on the task at hand.  I’m not able to think about my 9:00 A.M. meeting or that email I got last night.  I think only about shaving.  It’s not quite a Zen-like process, but it does clear the mind and force me to relax before I start the day.  Once I realized I just needed to slow down and focus, I got a much better shave at a fraction of the cost of replacement cartridges.

So the question I pose to you, good readers, is what low-tech device or strategy do you use that has proven better than the high-tech option, and why is it better? Please leave your answers in the comments so that we can all benefit from the collective wisdom. If you are interested, I bought the Parker 82R razor from Amazon for around $30 and highly recommend it (and if you use the link, you'll be supporting 40Tech, as that is the 40Tech affiliate link, which means Amazon will pay out a tiny fraction of any sale).