Find: Farewell to the Moleskine?

On why paper and pen still work better. Stylii need to get as cheap as pens.

Letter from the UK: Farewell to the Moleskine?

I always remember one of the editors on a Silicon Valley start-up I worked at who was so defiantly digital that he had nothing on his desk but his Mac and a gnarled, aggressive piece of wrought iron sculpture. The message was simple: “I’m digital. I don’t do paper. So don’t even think about putting any paper on my desk.”

It’s a noble aspiration: being truly digital means no trees die, your information is searchable, sortable, and safely stored in the cloud. We now have access to great tools such as Evernote, Dropbox, and Google’s suite of applications, which means that stuff you care about can accessible to you on almost any device and location; on your phone, tablet, and desktop, at home, at the office, and on the move.

Yet paper survives. The default prop of the digital chic is still the Moleskine notebook. Paper is elegant, simple, and quick. If you’re in a meeting you can open that notebook and scribble a few points down in the time it takes someone else to unlock their iPad screen. I still use a Moleskine for data capture because it just works: it doesn’t freeze, run out of power, or crash, it’s light, portable and easy to use.

On the other hand, I often have my iPad with me in meetings, and there are now a host of different apps trying to put the Moleskine notebook and the legal pad out of business, such as Penultimate, Notes Plus, and Noteshelf. Moleskine itself even has a branded free app for the iPad, which is one of the weaker offerings, (although it’s amusing to load it, screen-grab it, and give your iPad a Moleskine lock screen.)

With an iPad, a stylus and a good notetaking app, I should be able to leave paper behind. The truth is that although these apps are all interesting, they’re not quite there. None is yet an adequate replacement for the paper note taking process, in the way that the Kindle, say, is an adequate replacement for the book.

It’s always interesting playing with a bunch of new software apps that are circling around a problem, because if they’re good they ...
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