Old World Meets New World Innovation

I have for the longest time maintained at least 2 Moleskine notebooks. One on my person for miscellaneous things and one at home for a journal and planner. Now that I am employed full time I now have another one at the office for work notes. The cluster of notebooks has left me pondering the idea of moving to a more digital lifestyle.

I struggle daily with reconciling old world things with the new world technology. I blog and I also write in a journal, I also tend to take a lot of notes at work. Blogs are digital, no options there. But for my work notes and for my personal journal should these be digital or on old fashion paper? I have done numerous web searches for this exact topic, but I have found little in the way of answers. Which is one of the reasons I am writing this. I may never find the answer I am needing, nor the answer that I am happy with. I more so want to find the best practice for me.

At work the ability to pull up a notebook and sketch, take notes, rip out pages to give instructions, and be more immediate in responses on a factory or lab floor are invaluable. For these uses I use my Moleskine notebook, whether it is a knock off version or an actual Moleskine. Granted at work it would be easy to make the switch to a digital note system, since work provides everyone with a computer, not to mention my iPad. I simply just don’t like the digital clutter that follows at work and with so much stuff happening at work. Going back to sling a thought into a note is that much harder to do on the spot with digital files spread around various programs and apps.

Personal notes and journals on the other hand are simpler to manage as digital or physical paper. If I stay with physical journals and notes I will continue to use Moleskines and keep the little black books around for years. The harder question will be if I choose to go to a digital system, which one do I use? There are many options for note programs and journaling software for both the Apple laptops and for the Apple iPad. File format being the most important, since I log all my backups and keep them around having them all accessible later is very useful. Future proofing in a sense is a great thing even if the retrieval and rebuilding of the data can be notoriously painful, yet not as painful as a total loss of data.

There are also, as you could guess, pros and cons to both styles of notes and journaling. Mainly the issue of electricity. I simply cannot go on a camping trip and easily drag my iPad along let alone a laptop. The quiet of nature surrounding me is a great catalyst for writing, I simply cannot tune in as easily during camping trips with a piece of technology as I can with paper and pen. I also have an issue with durability, since paper is proven and safe from electrical failure. Digital data is easily destroyed with power surges, accidental erasure or even a spilled beer in the wrong place can render anything digital into scrap. But both paper and digital files can be destroyed just simply in different ways. Both forms of recording words can easily be rendered unusable. Truly the only form preservation known to be near earth ending permanent is to literally chisel it into rock slabs. Nothing is forever.

The next issue I have is nearly solved with the invent of the iPad. Taking my laptop places was a hassle. With the introduction of the iPad to my daily life, even carting around 2-3 notebooks is the heavier option, so when traveling light it was still heavy and I never wanted to boot up my laptop in any precarious situations, or places with food and drink. With the iPad being more on my lap and more enclosed, no battery door, open keyboards, or vent fans, I can feel at least a tad bit safer about where I use technology. On the other hand with a physical journal I could simply use one hand to write while the other holds my drink or sandwich and if I spill there’s little harm and little foul from the get go. This also sides with my use of digital or physical notes in hazardous environments where dirt and grim run rampant. In these types of environments the physical paper and pen takes the cake.

Then there is the is the issue of duplication and readability. When I write things in hand they are messy and hard to read. Hard to categorize and hard to follow, for others not me. With digital files I can usually search them and move them around even email or print multiple times anything I wish. There also has been many studies on the simple fact that when you hand write something people are better are committing the information to memory.

I guess in a way I have already answered my own question. I love technology and I have it around me at nearly all times. I can throw a notebook in my camping bag and transcribe (read: Scan) it later digitally. This is one of the main reasons mankind did invent scanners is it not? But for the simplicity of streamlining my life I think it will be best to go digital with my writings when possible. This keeps my writings searchable, archivable, and keeps my clutter down to hard drives and backups. Which just so happens to fit in with my organizational needs.

3 comments on “Old World Meets New World Innovation
  1. Charlotte says:

    I’ve been debating which is a better route to go, too. I’ve journaled on and off for years. It wasn’t until recently that I realized the importance of journaling my life. I’ve always preferred a pen and notebook but recently I’ve found a keyboard easier with editing and continuing my thoughts. I don’t own Apple products (yet) so what would you recommend for filing? I’m currently just using Open Office. Are there any online journaling sites you would recommend? Have you heard anything about Penzu?

    • Ashby Koss says:

      I’ve heard nothing but good reviews for some of the online journaling sites, like Penzu. On the other hand I am always resistant to having my journal go “too digital”. What about when there is no internet connection, since there are still many places let alone on the road travelling that are limited internet at best. Another interesting Iphone app and Mac integrated journaling system, if you are going to go into the Apple arena, is DayOne. On the topic of filing, I tend to create a folder for each year, then as I create entries I use 1 entry per file and name them using day x Month x year (12x10x2012). This can be done anyway your see fit, but more importantly is consistency. As for software I would recommend OpenOffice or LibreOffice, both export easily to PDF and use a file format that is ISO standardized that will be supported for many many years. With the software being truly multi-platform it won’t matter if you use Windows, Linux or Apple products.

      • Charlotte says:

        Hey! Thanks for the filing suggestion; it makes a lot more sense than my method of just continuing day after day on the same document labeled “journal”. Yeah, I’m not sure if a digital journal is the route I’m going to go down. It’s nice that those sites are available though. I think I’ll save my most personal thoughts for my own personal keeping and save the other stuff for blogging.

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