This morning's news about Instapaper's new note-taking feature happens to arrive right at the same time that one journalist is asking why so many in our profession still take notes with pen on paper.
David Rothman of Teleread tipped me to a recent blog post by Rob Pegoraro, a tech columnist. He recounted a recent scene at a press conference on his personal blog:
I was at a lunch briefing today, and of about 10 people around the table–some Visa executives, some PR minders, most journalists–I was the only person taking notes in an app instead of on paper.
That’s a typical situation. And I don’t get it. ...
I've seen the same (even among the tech savvy), but it never surprised me. I can't speak for the people at the conference but I can tell you why I still take paper notes.
The reason you'll see me with a notepad in my hand is that it just works better when I am on the go, and when I'm not on the go my computer is a better note-taking tool then any app on a mobile device. Also, a paper notepad is less of a distraction than a mobile device.
When I'm at my computer, I generally type my notes. Like David, I archive content in Gmail, but I also have notes peppered across Wordpad and the draft section of this blog.
Because I spend so much time at my computer, I've never developed the knack to take notes on a mobile device. Sure, I'll fave a tweet, bookmark a webpage, or forward an email to myself, but when it comes to recording a chunk of text when someone is speaking I generally whip out a notepad.
Pen on paper is faster for me than pen on screen (I've never mastered two-fingered smartphone typing). The paper notepad is also more sharable, flexible, and durable than any mobile device, and it weighs less.
I can tear a sheet out and hand it to someone, I can shove the entire notepad in my back pocket without worry, I don't have to worry about dropping it, or it being stolen.
And best of all, that paper notepad has the added upside of not having any distracting apps or games.
I have a rule against having electronics out during important meetings (I frequently break this rule but it does exist). I keep them in my bag (or sometimes leave them behind in my hotel room) because I realized a long time ago that I will be distracted by the gadget. I could miss something important, so I remove the distractions.
How about you? Do you still use paper notepads?