What is contemplative computing?

  • Contemplative computing may sound like an oxymoron, but it's really quite simple. It's about how to use information technologies and social media so they're not endlessly distracting and demanding, but instead help us be more mindful, focused and creative.

    My book on contemplative computing, The Distraction Addiction, was published by Little, Brown and Co. in 2013, and is available in bookstores and online. This 2011 talk is a good introduction to the project and its big ideas.

About Alex Soojung-Kim Pang

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I like FocusWriter, but see also Merlin Mann's critique of zenware:


"Which in this instance amounts to saying, a) selling people a prettier way to kinda almost but not really write is not, in the canonical sense, “nice”—but, far worse, b) leaving your starry-eyed customers with the nauseatingly misguided impression that their 'distraction' originates from anyplace but their own busted-ass brain is really not 'helping.' Not on any level. It is, literally, harmful."

Alex Soojung-Kim Pang

That's an awesome rant.

Benoît Perrier

Looks like someone hasn't used the tremendously good Writemonkey http://www.writemonkey.com
It gives you a live word or character count, a clock and useful stats. You can set a goal length (let's say 3000 characters) and it lets you know how far you've gone.
You can also set a time window to write in (let's say half an hour) and it indicates you how close you are to the deadline.
It also perfectly interprets markdown, outputting well-formed HTML.
As for the Open/Save mechanism : how complex is a command + O or a right click and "open with" (or even having it as your default editor) ? Seriously, I couldn't work without it and it truly improves both my productivity and my concentration.

Alex Soojung-Kim Pang

I hadn't heard of WriteMonkey either, but I'll have to take a look at it.

The WriteMonkey Web site's use of Courier font is a nice example of how an older technological look has now been appropriated and reinterpreted for new purposes-- in this case to hearken back to a time of simpler interfaces and creative writing tools.

Andrew Curry

I like OmmWriter:


No whistles, hardly any bells, but a clean white writing space.


WriteMonkey seems to become my new word processor of choice :) Have looked for a WriteRoom equivalent for my home PC, and this seems to fill out that void. Great stuff!


I've restarted my blog after about a year of neglecting it. I never knew I was mentioned here! I'm glad someone else found my rant cathartic :)

I'm going to try WriteMonkey right now.

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