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An ideal personal computer, one we thrive with rather than tolerate, becomes a mirror of ourselves.

In conversations where we feel a positive connection, we tend to mirror each other's body language and speech patterns. This kind of mirroring indicates safety and comfort which then lets us open up and develop greater intimacy. We experience this effect even though only superficial aspects of ourselves are ever mirrored - our posture, movements, and speech patterns. It's only our actions that are reflected, not the complicated and opaque thoughts behind them. Actions define our effect on the world around us.

Our personal computers do not mirror us. They exist as self-contained units that are, at best, tools, mediums, or accessories. Facilitators, basically. You pull out your smartphone to communicate, browse the web, use an app, or play a game, and then put it back. We interact in a series of detached discontinuities so there's no chance to develop a strong personal connection with the thing itself. There is no connection despite the many hours each day we find ourselves looking at them. Given that much time, the risk is that we'll begin to mirror the patterns inherent to our computers. But that's another topic.

You might think that it's best to be detached from these strange, foreign, things that surround us. You're probably right. It's normal to maintain a healthy distance from things that don't mirror us in any way. But if the situation changed and our computers actually did mirror us, they would no longer be strange and foreign things surrounding us. We'd feel safer, more comfortable, and have more positive thoughts and emotions. Like any of our important relationships, there would have to be a clear benefit and a strong base of trust.

Any particular action can be seen as being along a wide spectrum, from a simple occurence all the way to a wonderfully complex and meaningful effort. When you publish your first novel, a disinterested observer might glance at a headline and that's as much as it's ever going to mean to them: on this day, a book was published. That you, or anyone, authored it probably doesn't matter and the title likely won't stick. It's a simple, shallow, occurence to them. But to you, the release represents a deeply complex artistic expression arising from years of toil and torment. It might lead you to fame, status, and perhaps wealth. The action looks very different depending on your perspective, which itself depends on how invested and connected you are.

Your novel developed from a simple and shallow action that you took long ago. Along the way, you took many more simple and shallow actions in just the right pattern to end up with a wonderfully rich and valued work. Your actions occured one at a time - serially - because that's all anyone can do. The type, sequence, frequency, and persistence of these actions defined the work in a uniquely intricate pattern.

A type of action might be researching, or sitting down and writing, or taking walk in the woods, or chatting with a friend. An example of a sequence is researching, then eating lunch, then taking a walk, then sitting down and writing. Frequency would be some action every day. And persistence would be continuing as long as it took. The vast majority of actions are part of a frequently-repeated pattern, whether the same type of action on a regular basis or the same sequence reoccuring often.

As you might suspect, none of these patterns imply a particular quality of work or likelihood of popularity. Quality depends on the reasoning behind your choice of actions, which is seeded by your pre-existing abilities, tendencies, knowledge, and experience. Popularity further depends on your choice of medium, internal form, topic, and promotional abilities. Your underlying reasoning isn't going to be mirrored by your computer any time soon, but it can do pretty well with only your actions.

The way to begin mirroring yourself is to look at your actions in the most simplistic fashion and choose an essential type of action. If you were writing your novel, you might see that writing a sentence is the essence of your effort. So, you write a sentence, and yes you feel its tremendous depth of meaning, and it may have years of experience behind it, and connect so richly with all of the other sentences, and it took an hour to craft, and so on. But the simple action is that a new sentence is written. All you share with your computer is when you finished that sentence. No depth or detail is required now; there's plenty of time for that later. A beginning must be as simple as possible.

The first sentence:

A general beginning

After you have shared sentences for a while, you end up with a series of actions all of that type. This can be seen as a thread. After enough sentences you might start to pick out a frequency, or see lulls, or see bursts of productivity. There might be some regularity, or it might be somewhat random. You might be able to pull out some interesting patterns.

A thread of related actions

You soon realize that a single thread, while helpful, is only scratching the surface. Your writing isn't only sentences. It may even be that sentences aren't the essence of your process. So now each time you go for a walk in the woods you record that too. Now you have two threads. While you can still find patterns in each one individually you may also start to see correlations between the two.

Two threads

After the second thread, no doubt you'll find several more to add. But soon enough you'll want to increase the level of detail and depth. A written sentence is much more than its occurrence - there's a creative process behind it, perhaps research notes, and many relationships with other parts of the work. So you decide to add your notes to a thread within each sentence's point.

Depth within an action

This process can continue indefinitely.

Complexity from many threads with actions having depth

The complexity grows quickly but you're always on top of it and in control. You're familiar with it because it's mirroring your actions. It's possible to trust what you're seeing because you did everything yourself. And with greater complexity, even more detailed patterns, tendencies, or correlations can be pulled out. Even better, the computer is in a wonderful position to help that process along and provide tremendous value to you in a way that feels safe and comfortable.