Nobody bats an eyelid when you get your phone or tablet out. We’re all so used to the ubiquitous devices. You could be videoing, recording audio, listening to music, or even, dare I say it, speaking on the phone. It doesn’t matter as people tend to ignore you. They don’t feel threatened or even consider that your selfie or panoramic video may include their un-credited performance, odd habit, or snippet of recorded conversation.
But should you dare to pull out a notebook eyes turn to you. Feet shuffle nervously. Furtive glances bloom to become indignant stares on the way to fully formed inquisitive scowls. What are you doing? Are you making notes about me? You can’t write that down. How dare you. Small groups gather as if they’re part of a liberation movement. But it’s no Arab Spring for them unless it’s Arial bold, italicised, and digitized.
It’s as if you’ve written someone’s name down for the final tally just before Judgement Day rather than made a few notes. Maybe from childhood we are fearful of having our name taken down. Is there anything as personal as your name? To many it’s their identity; to be taken to the grave. It’s theirs. And how dare you write it down in your notebook. You can’t; it’s mine. Give me my name back. Take it out of your notebook. What did you write about me? Are you watching me? You’re not allowed to do that. Please don’t write that down; it’s personal.
But once you get over those objections, and thicken your skin you realise that a notebook and pen are fantastic tools for business and life. There’s something wonderfully personal about a pen and paper. They are empowering with potential and offer incredible low-cost, low-maintenance portability. And if you were to go really old school you could substitute your fancy uni-flo-glo- ink for a stubby pencil so familiar to IKEA and bookmakers ( off track betting establishments, sometimes sweetly referred to as turf accountants).
With pen or stubby pencil in hand you can jot down those never to be forgotten thoughts, or make that list of shopping that can be crossed out once completed. The act of jotting down is immediate. It captures the moment, and snaps the thought. Once written it allows time for revision and development with the stroke of a pen. It is there in black and white (should you chose that scheme). If you don’t like it cross it out, and perhaps revisit and re-instate when the thought has been considered and approved. Some things should remain crossed out though, and in particular poems that rhyme for no apparent reason but seemed clever at the time.
I would advise anybody who is not having the day of ultimate achievement or in layman’s term having a day where you’re not achieving what you’d like to get a notebook. It doesn’t have to be a fancy bound, waterproof to 200 metres with self-destruct abilities but of course it could be. Just get a notebook with pages to write, scribble or sketch on. Add a pen or stubby pencil and you’re off and writing. No fancy menus to navigate, no syncing to worry about, no charger cable to carry, and no concerns about purchasing with an update and potential upgrade imminent.
And if you’re really keen and like to see human reaction start making notes while surreptitiously glancing at people as you write in your notebook. It’s always a great way to pass the time, and you never know what thought you may have captured, or even engendered.
I’ve written this piece on a keyboard from a note in a small, black, notebook made with a reasonably nice pen. It was just a quick note, or perhaps an observation but had I put it in my phone would I have had the same relationship with the thoughts or words? Maybe. Who can tell?
I’m certainly not anti-technology or a Luddite (a group who seem to have been incredibly misrepresented. Victors writing history in notebooks, I think there…) as I produce film and video for the arts, heritage, business and cultural sectors. And all of these sectors require up to the minute content that optimizes the best the digital world can offer. But for me it would be a sad day were I to go to a meeting or on a shoot without my trusty notebook and pen.
Mät is a director at King Street Images, a film and video production company that creates high quality films and content for the arts, heritage, culture, and business sectors.
Please take a look at some of my films on King Street Images’ vimeo channel. Feel free to contact me for a chat about producing films and content for you or your business or publication.