Do we still need pen and paper ?

Feb 12

As dawn slides its silken blue cloack over the star dottet expanse of night, I rise from the slumber of my dreams. Trudding down for the morning coffee, I absently reach for one of my digital companions as I yawn and stretch to greet the new day. While our puppy pops outside to answer natures call, I stand in the doorway, My ipad in hand, and browse through the messages that came in overnight on Twitter, Facebook and Email.. Messages from the world that never sleeps.

Inside the 2 24 inch screens thate make up our major gateway to the digital frontier, form black monoliths ageinst the barren wall. Only
my sleepy reflection appears on their screens.  I shuffle towars the kitchen table and on the way, snatch up another “tablet sized” device that will accompany me in this precious time before the world awakes. Bound in brown leather my Ebook reader is poised to bring me the continuation of the story I am reading.

A few minutes later I am engulfed in my breakfast routine, Coffee ( warm, lots of cream ), toast or cornflakes and .. my padds. The Htc Desire Smartphone displays the stray “SMS” Textmessages that some analog=loving friends still send me over the “Telephone Service”, And while I engullf myself the letters written on the E-Paper of my Sony Ebook Reader, the Ipad lies to the side, playing some gentle tunes to
accompany my dawn.  As I pass  an interesting passage in the book,  I flip open the Notetaking app on the Ipad and scribble away a comment with my stylus as I sip my coffee.  Later on that day, I email that Doodle to a friend in Pdf format.

I gaze up from my reading and take in the inhabitants of my tabletop. An Ipad displaying the scribbles and notes I took, My smartphone, poised and ready for a day on the road and my Ebook reader, holding the secrets of the next chapter of the book i’m reading. Although I have consumed and communicated content… the rattle of a keyboard has yet to be heard in this mellow morning. Gentle taps on touch keyboards, swipes, pinches and zooms have recentely been joined by scribes and scribbles from my pen. And as absent as the sound of rattling keys, have been the sounds of rustling paper.

As i’m starting to feel more and more like some futuristic Star Trek Character from TNG or beyond, his office riddled with ‘PADDS’ and tablets, I wonder … do we still need paper anyway. On the “reading” front, that question has been answered some time ago. Since the Sony Ebook reader entered our house, I have seldon read another paper book. The convenience of having all of my books with me, all the time, in electronic format is just fantastic. For a short while I tried reading a book on the Ipad, but its glossy screen and many many interactions (due to its connectivity to the internet) make it a poor substitute when trying to “read”a book.

On the “Writing and notetaking” front the Ipad HAS entered the scene. Sure “Typing” up emails, notes and comments is not new, but scribbling them down … is. Thanx to my boss at work ( A fairly new but avid Ipad owner ) I was introduced to the concept of a stylus and a writing application on the Ipad. As we sat in a meeting he scribbled away his notes and popped them over to me in a PDF format. Save for the fact his handwriting borders some cryptographic code used by the Mayans, this was a pretty neat trick. So I jumped on the bandwagon and got NOTESHELLF. In my quest for the perfect stylus I also had to follow his lead and hork over 16 euro’s for a Pogo Sketch. Earlier attempts at buying ‘rubber tipped’ Ipad pens on Ebay lead to failure, as they do not agree with the Zagg invisibleshield on my Ipad. The foam covered top on the Pogo Sketch does the trick. well, mostly…

Thinking back to my writing exercises on my trusty HP TC1100 tablet pc, I must say that that setup was a lot more efficent and offered a better, cleaner handwriting. Somehow writing with the Sketch on the Ipad is a little “hit and miss” as the capacitive screen of the Ipad does not always agree with the Pogo Sketch. Luckily the NOTESHELLF app comes with a multitude of “paper formats”( Line, grid paper,  to do list, meeting notes etc) that have plenty of room to write, an easy undo function and a “palm protection mode” that lets you rest the palm of your hand on the screen while writing. Exporting your doodles is done via email, Dropbox, Evernote and Itunes via the PDF format. The zoom function lets you write in a big square box at the bottom of the screen, as your writing appears on the top of the page, giving you “more room”to write.

And you do need “more room “because this is still a long way away from “paper”. If you would like to enter a caligraphy course and create
your source material on the Ipad ? Lets not try that shall we ? Write a long loveletter to your better half for Valentine ? Not a good idea
either ( you can try, but it can be frustrating ) Take quick notes in a meeting and plop them over to your co-workers via email ? Perfect !
I’ve let the Ipad, NOTESHELLF and the Pogo Sketch take the place of my “pen and paper notepad” this week and have found the results promising. Sure this is one of these technology hacks that “work around the apple walled garden”to enhance the functionality of the
Ipad, but overall its not that bad. Why apple did you incorporate a “handwriting functionality”into their Ipad is a mistery. But hey , lets remember, the Ipad is the Itunes’ shopping cart right ?

So in all ? Will it replace my pen and paper ? I will surely try, perhaps my handwriting on the Ipad will get better, perhaps its because of the “Zagg invisibleshield” that its not THAT good. But it sure beats taking notes on a flimsy piece of paper that I instantly misplace or loose once I “file”it somewhere 🙂

As I peer outside I see a tree .. its leafless branches wave in the morning sky .. as to thank me for not using a scrap of paper this morning.

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