I ♥︎ Plain Digital Text

This post is part of this month’s IndieWeb Carnival hosted by Manu.

There are two groups of people in the world.

Those whose eyes glazed over when they read the title of this blog post and immediately scanned for the exit, and those who got a little flushed with excitement.

Yes, I’m in the latter group. I ♥︎ plain digital text.

Mostly because I love words and the power of words to communicate human stories, articulate transformative narratives, describe ideas and remind us what we’re supposed to be doing next.

From task lists to messages, rambling journal entries and emails, plain digital text informs and supports most things I do.

Plain digital text is:

Values? Is this a question of principle now??

Hear me out.

Of course, plain text is neutral. It’s neither good nor bad. The principle lies in what we do with it and how it helps us to do those things.

In a world bombarded by advertising, algorithms and apps that encourage us to scroll forever, plain text reminds me there’s more to life than the trappings of digital excess.

Often, the minimalist in me quietly suffocates under the weight and allure of consumerism and shiny new things. It’s too easy to lose myself and neglect the people, relationships and activities that matter.

I desire to be more deliberate.

I want to create more than I consume, construct more margin in my day, order my thoughts, prioritise the people and communities that matter to me, be more present, and discover joy and wonder in simple moments.

Believe it or not, plain digital text helps me to do that, which is why I love it.

Oh, and GIFs. I also love GIFs. But that’s for another time.

4 responses

  1. There’s another very strong advantage that plain text has that wasn’t mentioned here: it’s pretty future-proof. I suppose it’s possible that we may one day evolve to a point digitally at which we will no longer be able to read .txt files, but it’s stood the test of time so far, and I doubt it’s going anywhere soon. Being able to read things you’ve written or saved ten years ago without converting anything or dealing with outdated file formats is a really, really bit plus for me.

    1. Agreed. That’s what I meant by ‘portable’ but ‘future-proof’ is a better way to describe it.

  2. Aleem, you’re probably familiar with Jason Scott’s archive of textfiles from pre-Internet dialup BBS days, but I’ll leave this here for those who aren’t. His site provides a fascinating glimpse into the history of “modem life,” as well as hours of reading enjoyment.


    I love your comment posting UI, by the way.

    1. Oh, this is amazing. Thanks for sharing! I’m not sure how I’ve managed to miss the existence of this archive – I could lose myself in here for days…

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