Using the iPhone for creation over escapism

James Smits, in an email about my post on iPhone escapism:

Recently, I noticed myself in the same pattern that you mention, reaching for my iPhone before I even knew why I wanted it. Too frequently the culprit was Twitter. Recognizing this fact, I deleted My Twitter client. Soon I was reaching for my phone habitually only to find I had nothing to do with it. Soon after that I deleted any other app that became a time-sink.

Well, after that why would I need an iPhone? I rearranged the apps I had into categories — nature, media, productivity and creative. Quickly I started using the creative folder. It even contained the native notes app packaged with the iPhone. It also contained a recorder. I began to reach for my phone with motives besides boredom. An interesting conversation? Recorder app. A random thought? Notes.

This loose system begins to take on new life when you shuffle the categories. I added the built in clock app to “nature” not knowing what else to do with it. Move it to creative, or media and it instantly has a new context. Same with the compass app.

I love the idea of a creative folder, and of shifting an app’s context by shifting its categorization. Despite its ability to distract, I also find tremendous value in having such a powerful device as the iPhone with me at all times1. My most used creative apps — iTalk Recorder Premium, Camera+ and Simplenote — are all on my home screen.

And while I haven’t deleted all the potential distractions (although they do have their own folder), I have another barrier between me and the endless internet: I have a prepaid plan with very limited data. Wi-Fi is ubiquitous enough that if I need to connect, I usually can, and I have enough data for occasional directions or to check my email when I’m expecting an important message. But it encourages me to only connect to the internet when I’ll be somewhere for a while, or somewhere familiar, as opposed to anytime and anywhere. It was an intentional decision, and when I’m away from the usual places where Wi-Fi networks are remembered, it makes accessing the internet something I consider instead of something that’s automatic. And it’s great for another reason: it’s a whole lot cheaper.

  1. As I wrote last year, “If we are to agree, at least for creative processes, that the best tool is the one you have with you, then something like the iPhone — powerful, versatile, and always in your pocket — is the best tool for a lot of things (with apps being key).” 

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