Lately I have been thinking a lot about hand-writing, note-taking and commenting, and I have been considering a couple of different options for how to integrate hand-writing, which is a vital act of organising thoughts for me, and technology.
When Hilde Corneliussen was here in the beginning of May, she brought with her an iPad and a very enthusiastic attitude about a certain application. One of these was GoodReader, an app that lets you annotate PDF's. Hilde described and demonstrated how she could pull up the iPad, open student papers and comment on them by writing with a pen on her screen/on the pdf. I have to admit, that led to instant gadget envy.
The other object I have coveted for a long time, I have just not gotten around to actually buying it. I want an eletronic pen, for instance LiveScribe's smartpen. In combination with a notebook this is a seriously powerful object when it comes to organising information from meetings, lectures, annotations to books, work in libraries, note-taking and interviews. I also have an idea that it may be quite useful to create my own version of the Chrononotebook.
The Chrononotebook is what prompted the current round of technology-lust. I struggle with scheduling, and tend to resort to pen and paper in order to feel that I have a hands-on approach. Then I put the paper away, log on, and forget all about it. The circular nature of the Chrononotebook would satisfy my need to understand the rythm og my days - weeks - months, and it's also sufficiently beautiful that I would enjoy the process of scheduling. However, when I am done, it's still on paper. What if I could then transfer the image to a screen?
And this takes me a step further. I have used pictures of models I have drawn by hand in lectures, when I haven't found good examples elsewhere, or I have made up my own. With the smartpens I could just draw the model, then transfer it to the computer and to the presentation.
Now, the question is: are there pads, iPad or others, that will give me that kind of flexibility? The pen is not as expensive as a digital pad, but it is also a lot more specialised in its use. However, if I am to buy an expensive electronic device which might bring me further into slavery to Apple (my iPod went missing, and it feels kind of liberating not to worry about how I get control of my own music), I want to be able to use it all the time, for everything!
Or, do I take the chance and buy a totally different, new product? I have been watching Notion Ink's Adam for a while now, and after I found RepliGo Reader I am thinking really hard about getting a notepad that uses/supports android and not the many iProducts. However, Notion Ink is distributed from India (that's both a pro and a con), and doesn't have a solid user base or anybody who can maintain them if something goes wrong. Am I that much of an early user that I dare buy the cutting edge of tablet technology?
My first computer was an IBM Advanced Technology. We bought it in 1986, and we wrote a master's thesis and a book on it. The price was outrageous compared to the prices of comparable technology today. It did however trigger at least two young men's interest in technology, it brought me to computer games, and we learned how to delete the DOS - and rebuild it. I have to admit I did not, at the time, imagine I'd ever face the problem I am enjoying now.
The main point of fascination is however the combination of handwriting and drawing and of digital storage and accessibility. That is the part that currently feels like magic to me.