As I took notes down on a Google Adwords course I was making my way through, it suddenly dawned on me that if I wanted to share any of them, I was going to need to retype all my notes into some form of easily shareable format. Double the effort, double the time, a positive learning experience turned into a negative and arduous task.
What a lesson on how to demotivate yourself at the start of the day.
I do use Evernote and regularly compose text on the computer directly. However, when it comes to taking notes while reading, or watching a talk or plotting down my thoughts then it’s a moleskin, A5/blank pages/soft cover/colours assorted, and Uni-ball fine liner pen in black. Specific but I know what I like.
I know there are apps that now allow better optical character recognition (OCR). That is where you take a photo of your hand-written notes and it transcribes it into some digital format. It’s advanced a lot but, in Evernote at least, it still really only allows a search capability. If I want to share a document or use it as the basis of something to send to a client, I still need to rewrite it into a format I can email.
A possible solution
Being the problem-solver, I promptly decided that smart pens must have been at a point now that we have to be able to write as normal and it gets translated. In fact I remembered that Evernote partnered with Moleskin and LiveScribe to do exactly that. Brilliant!
However, it did get me thinking. Back off to Google to see what the latest research was on whether pen and paper were still better for you then the keyboard and your screen. to my surprise this hasn’t been a point of discussion since 2014.
The cost to being more digitally-savvy
The debate of pen vs keyboard is not new. Since 2013, Cursive or “joined-up” writing has been dropped from the Common Core Curriculum Standards in all US states. Research has also shown that we equally use different parts of our brain when we write vs type. Where we push for computational thinking, we aren’t arming children with the power to take down and apply the information being spoken to them. It seems counter-productive. Just like reading a real book, hand-writing will being a thing of the past. Children will no longer be able to read historic documents or letters from elderly relatives. The interaction and graphic freedom that a 3d object gives you will also diminish.
Equally while many people are smitten with their Kindle’s for reading, the digital pen hasn’t quite had the same effect. Yet. From a marketing perspective, digital tools allow for scale and data but receiving hand written notes in parcels is still seen as a personal touch and a great way to put a smile on anyone’s face.
Technology that works with us, not against
Ok, so I’m being a bit dramatic. But the reality is that writing, improves our learning of spelling, which in turn improves our reading. That cognitive pattern develops the brain to be able to interpret and rephrase the world around us.
The advent of the stylus and now Apple’s iPad Pro and Apple Pencil (adding yet another coveted item to my wishlist) does however suggest that technologists are listening to the neurosciences and developing tools to work with and not against us.
So, will I be buying a digital pen? The LiveScribe pens looks bulky, but it’s certainly cheaper and more in line with what I want to do that Apple’s option. For now I’ll stick to my old-school pen and paper until I can be convinced to invest otherwise.