iA Writer


When Oliver Reichenstein, and the incredible team behind Information Architects first launched Writer for iPad, I was as eager to test and experiment with the app, as I was to start a new writing project. I felt inspired. Of course, a few months later, and with unabated interest, Writer for Mac was introduced, and my world was completely upturned. Since then, these two writing apps, iA Writer for iPad and Mac, have become my definitive writing tools. They're simple and effective.

Here's why: Writer removes the obstacles of perfection from the task of writing. Let me explain.

Since finding Writer, I've decided to write my entire PhD dissertation, tentatively entitled, "Arakawa and Gins: Philosophers of Life", solely using Writer. Is it any surprise that Oliver Reichenstein has a background in philosophy? He's aware of, and asks, tough philosophical questions. "What happens to thought in relation to writing?" "Will the user interface precipitate new modes of production?" "In an age of distraction, how can we concentrate and focus the user?" Here's Oliver, with a little twist: "With Writer all your thought goes into what you write, not how your writing looks."

When I first started my dissertation, I was more interested in ontology and mereology, than I was aesthetics and pedagogy. But things have changed, and I've developed an interest in typography and design, largely thanks to . Our experiences with Montessorium have opened new possibilities for what encounters are possible with such aesthetic and pedagogical interactions. A new way of learning, and engaging with thought, is already here.

As this personal interest continues to grow and mutate, I continue to think about the ways in which we encounter the world, and the way the world encounters us, both in terms of making your life a work of art (aesthetics) and in terms of learning how to educate oneself endlessly (pedagogy). Is the task of education not one of self-education? This intersection, so timely and essential, has become the primary focus of my thinking. 

Enter Writer.

Writing in a clean and uncluttered environment, with a cursor so beautiful it's hard to be afraid of or afflicted by the blinking reminder to persist, despite the procrastination or absence of inspiration, Writer is a dream. It lets one go on, and on, as Gertrude Stein illustrated so majestically with the comma. Writer offers a radically new writing experience, primarily because it creates a space in which to write, one devoid of the constraints of perfection. Perfection, in this, and many other respects, limits construction. These are lessons we have learned from Graham Harman, amongst others.

Writing everywhere else just isn't the same. Not since I first learned how to put pen to paper, which, incidentally, I can never read have I been so thrilled to actually "sit down" and write. It helps to alleviate some of the pain and frustration of bringing something new into the world. I've always been on the look out for writing experiences. When I wrote a paper on Bataille, for instace, I ordered a typewriter to address the violence and brutality of the topic. The pages literally bled. The ink soaked through. With Writer, however, it's a completely unique experience. The words seem to conspire.

When I opted to use Writer for my dissertation, a number of questions were immediately presented. "Who will read my dissertation?" "In what format, and in what environment - not only on what device, but in what climate and geographical location - will they work through my chapters?" Before Writer, I also thought, "What font would best capture or convey the spirit of my work on Arakawa and Gins?" Knowing, in particular, that Madeline Gins had used Courier in the past, and that Arakawa had a disposition towards capitalization, these seemed like relevant and necessary lines of inquiry.

But this is how Writer works:

"Our goal was to create a writing app without settings. When opening Writer, all you can do is write. The only option you have is full screen and FocusMode." Of course, it helps, and is crucial, that 1) the environmenet is unencumbered, but also 2) that it's beautiful. Writer accomplishes both of these traits, in equal measure. Writer purrs in ways that only your fingers will learn.

Is Writer the perfect writing tool? In our estimations, it comes pretty close. Only thing better? If it'd write for you. Of course, there are other writing tools. We've seen Phillip Roth, for instance, seated before his special device, and boy does he have quite the outpouring. Speaking of which, I'd be curious to learn what Joyce Carol Oates uses to write. Maybe she'd like to try out Writer?

My biggest criticism of Writer, and it isn't a critique, so much as a feature request, would be to include the capability to add video and images. The reason? Perhaps it's more philosophical, than practical, but I would find the incorporation of media helpful. For better or worse, we've increasingly become accustomed to using and relying on these forms of interaction to help articulate and emphasize how we write, and what subjects we choose to address.

P.S. A little update for Mom: Four chapters down. Two to go. I plan to be finished before the end of the century. I promise. And, yes, no more long blog posts.

Bobby George