Zettelkasten Forum


Mobile Note Taking - High tech vs low school

edited February 16 in Knowledge Processing

Hi guys,

I am a big proponent of limiting the use of technology in my life. One of the big advantages I have in my life is: I don't own a smartphone. Never had and probably never will. But I noticed that quite many use smartphones for mobile note taking. I'd like to start a discussion about the pros and cons of various note taking devices.

I will collect the important arguments.

LET'S GO TO WAR!!!!!! (Ok, a bit over the top. Still had to do it.)

Physical Notebook

  • A physical note book looks way cooler.
  • The usage of pen and pencil makes it very easy to draw diagrams and illustrations.
  • It is like immutable data in the functional programming paradigm! dbarends
  • physical notes are far easier to remember / spot among hundreds of others, just because they are not virtual and thus are unique in more ways physical notes will ever be able to be rene
  • Typing encourages you to copy what you hear (and maybe see), which kind of lets the information bypass your brain/memory. Writing by hand forces you to make sense of what you hear and condense it, focus on what's really important, and express it in your own words, short-forms, and symbols, facilitating existing associations in your mind.rene

Smartphone

  • Rejecting a properly configured smartphone is like preferring a typewriter over a computer, because you worry, you would spend too much time on the web goofing off. Basil
  • access the existing information anywhere and being able to make changes, and not so much taking new notes from scratch.Basil

Comments

  • Physical Notebook

    • It is like immutable data in the functional programming paradigm! You can change it, that is, re-write it, but not erase it. Use a fountain pen (that is cool;-) with a small nib:-)

    Kind regards,
    Dick Barends

  • @dbarends said:

    Physical Notebook

    • It is like immutable data in the functional programming paradigm! You can change it, that is, re-write it, but not erase it. Use a fountain pen (that is cool;-) with a small nib:-)

    I second that and all points from @sfast. Being a big big fan of fountain pens myself (the coolest writing device since sliced bread :tongue: ), I have to admit though, that nothing beats a sharp / retractable pencil when on the move. Writes on anything, lasts forever, doesn't care about dust, sand, dirt, spilled drinks, rain or snow, and you don't have to worry too much about loosing or breaking it or even having it stolen. Judged by experience, a pencil works in even more conditions than an expensive space pen.

    Add to that that physical notes are far easier to remember / spot among hundreds of others, just because they are not virtual and thus are unique in more ways physical notes will ever be able to be.

    I recommend a tiny a6 spiral bound notebook and a small retractable pencil for spontaneous note taking in unexpected situations. Note-taking to go :smile: . Jot a note, add a drawing, then try that with your smartphone and see the difference :tongue:

    On the job or when I'm prepared to take notes, I prefer A5 to B5 sized spiral bound notebooks. Not a fan of writing into thread bound Moleskine, Leuchtturm, Paperblanks (although they're awesome and look wayyyy cool) and the likes, especially for "on the go" usage, as the spiral bound ones are far, far more flexible in multiple ways.

    All of the above is just my opinion. No need to "go to war" over that :smirk: . But of course, I will fearlessly defend my opinion, if smartphone note takers attack :smile:

  • If you turn off notifications for 90-95% of your apps and don't waste your time on social media and such, a smartphone (i.e., a pocket computer) is actually a fantastically useful tool. Rejecting a properly configured smartphone is like preferring a typewriter over a computer, because you worry, you would spend too much time on the web goofing off. ;)

    On a more serious note, though, it looks like you created this topic in response to a few of us mentioning here that it is important to us to access our notes on our smartphones. To me, and I am assuming to most other smartphone notes app users, the most important part is being able to access the existing information anywhere and being able to make changes, and not so much taking new notes from scratch.

    For actually taking notes in a meeting or so, I generally prefer to use my MacBook Pro, because I type significantly faster than I write by hand. That is, unless I anticipate the need for drawings; in that case, I would use pen and paper. If I can avoid it, I never write extensive pieces of text or longer emails on my iPhone.

    So, sure, smartphones don't make for great note taking devices in my opinion, but being able to access and to directly modify my external brain from anywhere anytime using 1Writer on my iPhone is absolutely priceless to me and a huge boon to my productivity.

  • @Basil,

    No doubt smartphones are useful devices. I wouldn't want to miss mine either.

    See, the topic of this post is 'Mobile Note Taking'. So I regard parts of your response off-topic (no offence taken).

    For actually taking notes, at conferences or in meetings, it first appears that typing is faster than writing by hand and therefore your notes would be more valuable. But in fact, rather the opposite is the case. Typing encourages you to copy what you hear (and maybe see), which kind of lets the information bypass your brain/memory. Writing by hand forces you to make sense of what you hear and condense it, focus on what's really important, and express it in your own words, short-forms, and symbols, facilitating existing associations in your mind. This way notes become shorter, more concise, easier to recall and you automatically retain more of the important information. There is scientific evidence for that, unfortunately I don't have any notes on it :smile: but it should be google-able easily.

    If you force yourself to take notes with a pen you will be amazed about how quickly you become an efficient note taker and how little you need the notes afterwards. Typed notes often contain too much information and require you to re-process them, at least mentally, later anyway. Hand-written notes are far easier to consume.

    I rest my case, for note taking smart phones are an inferior technology.

    I definitively see the value of smart phones that enable one to access a note archive in a convenient way. That would just be awesome (reminds me of a jenkyll thread).

    I can see that sometimes it can even be useful to modify existing notes in your archive via smartphone. It wouldn't be a really pleasant experience but if you've ever SSH-ed into a machine and used vi to remotely edit files on a smartphone, you can live even with that in "extreme" situations :smile:

    But, again, the topic was taking notes away from your computer. Shall we open the topic to accessing / editing / creating notes on a smartphone? If so, there's probably different kinds of notes. I think I'd be more comfortable to just draft an Zettelkasten-worthy note on a piece of paper and type it in when back at the computer instead of trying to type it on a smartphone. And for non-Zettelkasten-worthy braindumps pen and paper are more effective than a smartphone, in my opinion.

    So, what do you guys think of those tablets that let you handwrite on them, which qualifies as mobile note taking? I've seen people using different models. One that I thought was awful was one where the girl using it would have to zoom into a part of the page, then handwrite with some super thick stylus, then zoom out and zoom in the next rectangle to continue writing, ... She seemed to love it but I just found it looked cumbersome.
    Then there are those tablets really suited for handwriting with a "sharper" stylus. I don't know what to make of them. I tend to prefer my spiral bound notebook where I get a kind of physical grasp of where my notes are, their context, and all the extra information like little post its attached for quick access, "wrinkles" of the pages, etc.
    I guess it's a bit like reading on a kindle vs reading a real book. Any thoughts on that?

  • @Basil said:
    On a more serious note, though, it looks like you created this topic in response to a few of us mentioning here that it is important to us to access our notes on our smartphones. To me, and I am assuming to most other smartphone notes app users, the most important part is being able to access the existing information anywhere and being able to make changes, and not so much taking new notes from scratch.

    I think this is reasonable: Accessing and occasionaly modifying. I would also love that, at least the accessing part of it :smirk:

    BTW: The link you provided gives me a "permission denied" error.

  • @rene, I should probably have given more background information, because the thread that I had linked to is on the private The Archive beta subforum that not everybody has access to.

    What had happened was:
    - In that thread, a debate had emerged about the advantages and disadvantages of starting note names with UIDs (e.g., "201802130850").
    - A few of us then mentioned that a huge downside of that approach is that accessing your notes on a smartphone becomes borderline infeasible when a UID makes up much/most of the visible file name.
    - Less than a day ago, @sfast then wrote:

    IDs interfere with iOS
    As a proud conscientious objector of smartphone usage with a strong believe and sense of mission I am happy for this additional feature of the IDs. :smiley:
    Seriously, I am wondering how you think the net benefit of a smartphone over a physical note book is.
    -> New discussion thread incoming.

    This current thread is said "New discussion thread incoming", which is why it is not about how to best take notes in general but specifically about the smartphone v. physical notebook dichotomy.

    My impression is that @sfast (in his blind rage agains smartphone technology ;)) misunderstood why some of us use smartphones to interact with our notes / Zettelkastens. Hence my explanation why not taking but accessing and modifying are the important features.

  • @Basil said:
    [...]
    My impression is that @sfast (in his blind rage agains smartphone technology ;)) misunderstood why some of us use smartphones to interact with our notes / Zettelkastens. Hence my explanation why not taking but accessing and modifying are the important features.

    Oooooh, I see :grin: . Got you. Now it all makes more sense :smile: .
    Thanks for shedding light on this!

    Yeah, @sfast and his blind rage... Maybe he'll calm down when he gets older :smirk:

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