Bob Schwartz

Tag: tablet

My Cheap Blank Tablet, My Tabula Rasa

I’ve started keeping a tiny blank black chalkboard on my desk, next to a stick of white chalk.

It is also known as a tablet. But I am not confused between it and the three other devices on my desk that have the same name, though it is just about the same size. This one cost about two dollars at Walmart and stays fully charged and useful forever. As long as I don’t run out of chalk. The others were substantially more expensive and need constant electrification.

There are the expressions “clean slate” or “blank slate.” Clean slate indicates that all is forgotten or forgiven, that one is starting over. Blank slate indicates thought that starts without prior or preconceived ideas.

In Latin it is tabula rasa, a clean, erased, or literally scraped tablet, based on wax writing tablets used by the Romans. Aristotle used this as a philosophical concept, as did John Locke.

I draw circles on it. I draw lines on it. It doesn’t have room for many words, just one or two, so I don’t do much writing on it. I do that on the other fancier tablets. Whatever I do chalk there, I always erase. Blank, for the next time.

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Broken Memory Card Books

Micro SD Card

The micro SD memory card I inserted into my tablet is now broken. Literally. Bent in two places. All the books, music and movies on it cannot be accessed. (How it got that way is another story. Also, all you cloud storage lovers can please be quiet about “This is why cloud storage is so much better.” I like my local electrons.)

This is not a tragedy in so many ways: compared to the rest of the world, the rest of my life, the rest of my digital life. None of the media was lost; it is simply a matter of loading a new card with any of them.

Micro SD cards are very small and delicate, but powerful. The size of thumbnail, this one had 32 GB (gigabyte) of memory. The average book is less than 1 MB (megabyte), a music track around 5 MB. One GB is about 1,000 MB. Not that I had a thousand books on that broken card (more like a few hundred), but I could have.

This is an opportunity. Rather than ask the memory card to remember all sorts of books that I might have loaded because I liked them a little or liked them once or thought them possibly interesting, but never actually got around to any more if at all, I will load the new card slowly and carefully, one by one, starting with those books that have meaning for me that is essential or nearly so. The moment I realized I was going to be starting over, I knew almost exactly which those were. Rather than desert island books, these are my broken memory card books.

There are metaphors about memory here, some pretty interesting ones, and you might have fun playing around with them. I might have time to do that too. But right now, I have put in a new card, and I’m about to load the first book. It won’t last forever as the only book on my tablet, but for now, it will be the center of my reading universe—a status it deserves.