You may have seen the blog entry containing a transcription of my notes from the Geek Girl Ottawa dinner, but have you seen the handwritten originals?
One of the items that came in the Bag O’ Stuff that I was given on my first day at Shopify was a Moleskine notebook and a Sacchi ballpoint pen. I have reasonably good penmanship and was once better known as a cartoonist than a programmer or accordion player, so I thought I’d put both to good use.
I know that in the age of laptops, iPads, Flip cameras and tweeting from your phone, taking notes with pen and paper seems a little passe, However, the old way still has a couple of advantages. First, you can be a little more free-form with where and how you write — you don’t have to do things is straight lines, and you can easily switch between writing and drawing and mix test and illustrations with abandon. Second, and possibly more important: paper isn’t as badly affected by crumbs or a spilled sauce or drink as electronic devices are, a consideration one must make when taking notes at a dinner.
At the end of 2009, I had a couple of coupons from Dell (thanks to TechDays) that entitled me to 25% off monitors, printers and scanners from their store. I used one coupon for their 24″ Ultrasharp monitor, which I’ve been using regularly at my home office since the start of 2010 — first with the developer machine first assigned to me, then the Dellasaurus, and now with “Vic Romano”, my Shopify-provided 15″ MacBook Pro (my machines are currently named after the hosts of Most Extreme Elimination Challenge).
I used the other coupon to get something I’d been meaning to buy for a while: a scanner. Not a cheap one integrated into one of those all-in-one printer/scanner/copier/fax machines chimeras, but an honest-to-goodness, dedicated flatbed scanner. I picked out the Epson Perfection 4490 Photo scanner. Unlike the monitor, the scanner languished unused, with its moving parts still immobilized in its packing material, until a month ago.
My plan was to return to cartooning, something I’d done for just about every student paper during my days in high school and Crazy Go Nuts University. I wasn’t going to go as far as posting webcomics, but perhaps I’d use comics as part of my blog entries. I fancied myself a less surreal, more saucy version of why the lucky stiff.
Like much of 2010, that plan didn’t quite work out. All that was prologue for 2011, which has been about throwing away old plans for new ones. Inspired by a brush with death and a couple of strange events in February that I like to call “The Battles in Seattle” (one personal, one professional, both unbloggable but tellable over drinks), I left a comfortable and lucrative job at home for a startup and relocated, if only temporarily, to a town where I know only a few people and even less about where anything is.
So in that spirit of change, when the time came to pack my stuff for the move, I took the scanner with me, along with some sketchpads that had been lying fallow even longer than the scanner. I removed the last of the packing materials and hooked it up this evening. There was no better candidate item to scan than my Geek Girl Dinner Ottawa notes in my Moleskine.
So expect more scans of my handwritten notes, along with hand-drawn illustrations and comics in my blog posts. I hope you find them interesting.
This article also appears in The Adventures of Accordion Guy in the 21st Century.
At the recent South by Southwest Interactive conference, most of the note-takers, myself included, took notes at the sessions using their laptops. One notable exception was designer Mike Rohde, who took notes the old-fashioned way: with pen and paper, or more specifically, pen and Moleskine notebook.
These aren’t your garden-variety lecture notes, but what he calls “sketchnotes”. Rather than being mere points taken down during the presentation, they include elements of layout, graphic design and whimsical illustration. “While sketchnotes capture concentrated concepts for each session well,” Rohdes writes, “I think they’re even better at awakening ideas stored in the minds of session attendees.”
[Found via SxSW Baby!]