Tuesday, March 23, 2004
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Notebooks and Daybooks

Doug Miller revisits the question of the Daybook. Low-tech solutions, like Moleskine notebooks, are convenient and reliable -- but they don't scale well: when the old notebook is full and you've just started another, you either need to carry both books or you lose access to your old notes. Miller is evolving a nice hybrid strategy that includes paper notebooks for information capture, a cell phone/laptop conduit for phone numbers, and Tinderbox for knowledge management.

While in Rome, I carried a pen and notebook constantly, and found this gave me nice opportunities for reflection and introspection while also providing a good place to stash reminders, phone numbers, tickets, and other travel ephemera. Near the Pantheon, I bought a lovely leather-bound desk book to rest near my workstation and serve the same function -- to act, in short, as a lab notebook.

But these low-tech devices are for information capture and for the experience of writing; when you want to be able to analyze, reflect, and retrieve information, you want a tool like Tinderbox. This has always been true: Jefferson, a great note-maker, kept a vast range of diaries, record books, commonplace books, and vade-mecums, each with its own purpose.

Notebooks and Daybooks