it’s a straightforward love story. my dad gave me a moleskine notebook when i was in high school and i’ve been a devoted user ever since. it turns out i’m in good company with silicon valley folks.
the post’s title is my favorite phrase from David Sax’s “Why Startups Love Moleskines” on newyorker.com. it’s also the title of his book, available next year.
basically, we’ve come full circle in our relationship with paper. startups made the return since none of the virtual systems are as effective and efficient as the old-fashioned way, according to Sax.
when i got my first iPhone, in 2010, i tried note-taking apps because it was the thing to do, and paper, even inside a magenta or bright green moleskine, seemed antiquated. although longhand writing came more naturally, why have an iphone if i wasn’t using it for everything? i reasoned. but i ran into the exact problem Sax describes politely—the virtual systems sucked.
i’m the boss of my idea recording. as such, i cannot be bothered to learn a virtual system’s peculiarities. for what? the pleasure of opening the app, discovering i accidentally logged out last time, so now have to re-enter my password? then create a new note? forget it. the moment has passed. the idea is gone.
he points out how close you are to distractions while using your phone, but it’s also a question of social trust. if it looks like you’re writing in a notebook, you’re probably writing in a notebook. if you’re doing anything on a smart phone, well, you could be doing anything.
then there are the analysis and retention issues that come with typing. the tendency on a keyboard is to get down every word, court-reporter-style. by default, writing longhand forces you to evaluate and select the most important information as you go. plus, while all keyboard letters are hit equally, each word has a distinct shape, helping you recall what you wrote.
let’s say you’re typing out an idea but realize a drawing would be more effective. time to open that paint program, if it still exists? paper’s flexibility, letting you include whatever you want, however you want, mirrors the mutability of the mind. brainstorming and capturing ideas benefit from an organic and personal system, where you can seamlessly shift from words to illustrations to charts and back. since there’s no barrier with ideas, it’s only fair the way you record them be the same.
i only have one suggestion for moleskine’s designers—bring back neon!
how do you take notes and keep track of ideas? if you found this helpful, please take a minute and share it on twitter or facebook.