There are no inherent magical advantages in any of them.
Vellum, astrolabes, telescopes… These were the MacBook Pro’s and Blackberries of their day.
An ideal classical sorcerer’s lab was the Google office of Ancient Greece.
Then I read this article in the New York Times about the data-driven life and my mind starts whirring. (May have something to do with those three coffees, as well.)
What digital tools provide the best advantage in magical experimentation? Is there a set of digital services and products out there That mirror the astrolabes and star charts of the Classical Age?
The answer is yes… Assuming we set a goal or two.
- A digital toolkit should be portable yet permanent. You should be able to access it anywhere -or restore it in the event that something happens to your computer.
- It should get better over time.
- It should make you smarter.
- It should be easy to use.
Digital tools: Software
A digital passport
A Google account is your passport to the internet. I’m assuming I won’t get too much resistance to this idea from the magical community seeing as 98.9999% of you appear to have Blogger accounts.
But there are some strategic ways of using Google accounts that apply directly to the magician’s digital toolkit.
- Use your ‘core’ Google account to sign up for everything. That way you will always know where your passwords are so you only need to worry about remembering (and safekeeping) the one.
- Set up multiple accounts by ‘category': I have a personal one, one for magical stuff, one for media/career stuff.
- Use these multiple accounts to create ‘digital wire rooms‘: I setup news alerts, docs, youtube subscriptions, feeds, etc in totally separate modules. That way I can get a holistic view of each category simply by logging in and out. It means feeds and logins don’t get too confused and categories stay small enough to manage.
Sidebar: I used to teach journalists all over the world how to do this. It’s an awesome hack. Strategic use of Google accounts makes you king of the internet.
Sorry, but you need it. Using twitter makes you smarter.
- Only use one twitter account. (Preferably something resembling your real name, or at least, SFW.) Bigger is better. So it’s the reverse of the Google account advice.
- Google for some free ebooks on how best to use twitter. (There are hundreds.)
- Based on Rune Soup’s audience data, a healthy chunk of you are using Firefox. (Which is good.) Twitterfox is the least intrusive twitter client. It’s the one I use.
Do you think Foursquare, etc should be on the list? Well, it shouldn’t. Who are you, Paris Hilton or something? Foursquare is a dead end because both Facebook and Twitter will offer the exact same service by the end of the year and they already have a scalable user base.
So Foursquare is out of the magical toolkit. Besides, manually checking in is retarded.
I’m really surprised this service isn’t more widely used. It may actually be the last social media service I would ever give up.
Basically, a delicious account allows you to save all manner of junk you find on the internet by tag somewhere online. None of this ‘browser-based’ bookmarks anymore.
Drag the bookmarklet into your toolbar and its one-button bookmarking that doesn’t interrupt your web flow.
The real benefit is that it allows you to access your growing pool of resources from any computer (and most smartphones) in the world. It has metaphorically saved my life more than once when I have been away on business.
Again, one core account is fine. And save everything. Be a hoarder. Mine is mostly just recipes and holiday ideas but that’s because those are two of my favourite things. The more you save, the better the collection becomes.
Unless you want one, you really don’t need a magic blog.
But everyone should have a shareblog as a “home for all my shit” on the internet. Posterous is better than tumblr. Its one-button publishing that can also link up with your phone for on-the-fly photography. Once you have a shareblog, you’ll wonder how you lived without it.
Here’s mine as an example.
Better than Picasa in my opinion but whatever you do, don’t just leave your photos on Facebook… Which technically has the copyright to all your precious memories. Flickr makes it super-easy to share and embed photos in other sites, as well.
Don’t even think twice about its value. A Pro account is absolutely worth it.
Unfortunately, but not surprisingly, you can’t use your Google account to set up a Flickr account.
I was really impressed with Aviary. My Photoshop skills are okay at best but sometimes (usually when composing blog posts) you need to perform some really simple photo editing that doesn’t require firing up an expensive memory hog. Aviary is perfect for this. Another one to sign up to with your Google account.
Of course, I mean legal file sharing: As in moving large files around safely and anonymously… Videos and things that are too big for email attachments. Gigasize is your go to. It’s the fastest/most reliable and you don’t even have to log in with anything.
I use this all the time for work.
Not a magical tool, per se, but essential if you’re serious about success magic.
Because there is quite simply no avoiding Linkedin if you want to grow in your career. A prospective employer will look for you here. (As well as on Google, of course.)
Just take the 20 minutes to get an account set-up and make sure you add your personal gmail address to the account… NOT just your work address. (What happens if you leave abruptly and the workmail account is cancelled? This actually happened to me.)
Digital tools: Hardware
I swear, I don’t work for Google but I am totally recommending you use their Nexus One. Slightly less evil than Apple, a better camera, doesn’t unreasonably hate Adobe Flash so it will be better for shooting and watching video.
Also, it plugs in better with your gmail account and will be much easier to post with if you’re on Blogger. (Think of the in-ritual possibilities!)
You can of course go with an -ugh- iPhone. I’ve used one for years. It’s fine. Whatever you go with, just make sure you get something with a good app store.
The Flip is the iPod of portable HD cameras: Over-priced and well designed. Good for most uses.
But the Kodak Zi8 is better. The audio isn’t as good as Flip but it has an external mic port and optional lenses to attach (which is a goldmine). The Flip has neither of these. Same easy upload (especially with your YouTube account). Also cheaper.
Yet another device that worms its way so elegantly into your life you will wonder how you lived without it. (I have video records of ritual layouts. Very helpful.)
I would call this a ‘baseline toolkit’ for magical folk who are thinking about web publishing or already doing so.
You will notice that the majority of services here don’t require you to actively use them. There is a dizzying, growing array of digital products and it’s often difficult to work out which ones you actually need.
A toolkit like this is designed for minimal disruption to your current web activity. You aren’t expected to use them in addition to whatever you currently do online, but on an as-needed basis.
What do you think? Are there any digital tools that you use and consider helpful in your magical life?