This final test clarified that the simple act of verbatim note taking encouraged by laptops could ultimately result in impaired learning. “Although more notes are beneficial, at least to a point, if the notes are taken indiscriminately or by mindlessly transcribing content, as is more likely the case on a laptop than when notes are taken longhand, the benefit disappears,” said Mueller and Oppenheimer.
I’m a screen kinda guy but even I’ve noticed that there is a difference, most particularly in my comprehension and retention of what I read. I get more from novels printed in paper- or hardback but I’m surprised to say I enjoy reading them more on my iPad. That is a hard thing to admit, feels like I’m going against what I’ve believed all my life. but it’s true.
It just might also be bad.
Of course, there’s no clear-cut answer to the paper vs. screen question—it’s tangled with variables, like what kind of medium we’re talking about (paper, e-book, laptop, iPhone), the type of text (Fifty Shades of Grey or War and Peace), who’s reading and their preference, whether they’re a digital native, and many other factors. But many researchers say that reading onscreen encourages a particular style of reading called “nonlinear” reading—basically, skimming.
In a 2005 study out of San Jose University, Ziming Liu looked at how reading behavior changed over the past decade, and found exactly this pattern. “The screen-based reading behavior is characterized by more time spent on browsing and scanning, keyword spotting, one-time reading, non-linear reading, and reading more selectively,” Liu wrote. In the face of endless information, links, videos, and images demanding our attention, we’ve adapted our reading to fit our screens.
Now here’s an interesting thing: I copied and pasted that quote out of the Fast Company’s Design section and it looked fine there but I felt compelled to break it up into two paragraphs. I just added a return, I wouldn’t alter the quote, but on this screen at this time, it looked like an impenetrable wall of letters. On the original site, it looked fine.
So I’m looking at it on the same screen but the font choice, the layout, the spacing make giant differences. Read the full piece
Even I like having a new, empty paper notebook. I just can’t read my handwriting. Also, I know I’ll lose it and that irritates me when everything I ever type is saved safely all over the place. Plus, how do people use paper notebooks? How fast do they fill them and then what happens? Have they shelves of these things?
Rocketbook says hang on there, William, enough. Rocketbook is a paper notebook that you scribble away on and its pages are saved to the cloud. Dropbox. Evernote. Google Docs. You snap a photograph of the page with your phone and what is written on the page determines where it’s saved. So handwrite during a meeting, then take a mo to photograph the page and before you’ve put your phone away, the Rocketbook has saved that note to, say, an email that it is even now sending someone.
That covers my problem with potentially losing the book but there is also that business of filling up all the pages. Honestly, this sounds like a joke but it’s serious: put your Rocketbook in the microwave oven and wait for a bit. Every note on every page is erased and you have a crisp, new notebook.
I read that and think you must need special paper: yes, but that’s what the Rocketbook is made of. I read this and think you must need special pens: sort-of. The have to be FriXion pens by Pilot which I’ve never heard of but apparently are common.
There is nothing here to help with my handwriting but that’s my problem. Your pen work is much better than mine, you might love this.
One thing. This is an Indiegogo crowd-funded idea except it’s no longer an idea: it’s achieved its target by more than 3,500%.
Unless the first way is to hire someone else to do the other nine, I’m suspicious. But Lifehacker’s Melanie Pinola writes persuasively about methods of getting stuff down onto a list and then doing it. I don’t agree with them all but it’d be boring if I did. Here’s one unfair sample from her ten ways: she doesn’t claim it’s the best and I don’t think it’s representative of the rest but I just liked it as a dramatist:
Turn Your To-Do List into a Story
Visualise and map out your to-dos into a story, a narrative for your day. This storytelling technique can not only help motivate you to complete the tasks, it could boost your memory and help you make better sense of your days. There are other ways to visualise your to-do list that can prompt you to act more.
This is you. I know this because this is me too. You have an idea and moreover you have a raging need to write it – but you also have a mortgage and bills and at times it is all very scary. The last thing you do is write.
Everything I’ve ever done, every job that has become a key part of my working life, has begun as a sideline desire. All of it. Whatever I was doing, whatever I am doing, there is something else that I fancy and I’m working at it late at nights. No question: late night tinkering leads to life-changing opportunities. Sometimes to life-changing necessities.
But late nights also lead to doubt. And the days that follow the late nights can be bad. Nothing happening, not with this tinkering, not with the day job, and the pressures are a wall with a mirror on it. It’s a mirror telling you that you should not be doing this thing, you should not be writing that thing.
It’s the mirror telling you that you should get a paper round instead. Something to bring in even a little bit of cash now is better than frittering away your life with this stupid idea of writing. What cuts so deep is that this is true. Often enough, anyway.
You can tell yourself that you are investing in your future – because you are – but that is a tough sell when your present is tough going. You need to pay the bills now but you need to do this tinkering because that will pay the bills in the future and because it is the tinkering that you’re here for. I don’t believe in souls because I’m not religious at all but I do believe in a need to be more than we are.
I’m here to write. I think you are too.
So let us do that, let us recognise the necessity of it in every sense. And, okay, sometimes we’ll see each other down the newsagent’s.
I’ve been leaning toward the larger phone because I’m really curious about how a bigger screen would change my relationship to my iPhone. I really like my iPad and if I had some of those features in my pocket at all times, I may really like that. I’m so curious that I’ve made a mock-up with this template from Ars Technica. I printed the page, folded it around the 6 Plus size, and taped a stack of index cards to the back to give it the approximate thickness of the actual phone. I’ve carried it so far in my fancy work pants and my jeans. It fits fine in my pocket.
Oh, I think you’ll love this. Every time I meet someone who is adamant that their paper notebooks are better than my clutching at Evernote and typing everything, I ask them the same question. It is always a genuine question, I promise you this, and I only keep asking because I just don’t seem to get very convincing answers. Yet notebook users persist and are deeply attached to their paper and pen. This is the question: how do you find anything?
I mean it. I had an editor at the BBC who, whatever the discussion, could flip to the right page in her big notebook and tell you what we’d said about it last year. I was fascinated. I don’t know that I would do it even if I understood it, but I know for certain that if I were a paper notebook user, I would be using this:
…notebooks are hard to organize your ideas. You either split your notebook into several sections for each ‘category’ and end up wasting valuable pages in the quieter sections or you just write your ideas as they come along making them hard to find later on.
If this sounds familiar then you are going to love this little hack I was taught here in Japan by a friendly salariman. It’s a little messy, and not something I’d use all the time but for the right subject could come in handy.
Here’s how it works. The back of your notebook will act like a tag list or index. Every time you create a new entry at the front of the book you’re going to “tag” it.
This time you absolutely have to read the whole thing or I don’t think you’ll get it at all. The only alternative is for me to steal the entire article plus photos and I won’t do that because of course I won’t do it. Plus, if you like this article from Highfive, you’re surely going to like others and I need to point you at this and them all. But for the sake of enough clarity so that you can decide whether it’s worth digging into this particular full piece, here’s the end result:
You can’t help but notice the list of words on that back page of the notebook – but look at the pages before them. Those little marks that stand out even on the closed pages are how you find everything. Do take a look at Akhatar’s full piece for more explanatory photographs and exactly how to do this thing.
And then go get Evernote for your Mac, PC, iPhone, iPad and Android devices. Sorry. I had to.
I need the 21st century. Couldn’t cope without technology. But I accept your mileage may vary so if you have a lot of paper or you really want to do things with paper, I’m not judging you. I don’t comment, I merely report:
I was reminded of this earlier when reminiscing about my old job and the Noguchi filing system. It was devised by Japanese economist Noguchi Yukio, and for about a year I used it extensively.
Instead of a filing cabinet or set of drawers, you’ll need an open shelf and several 9″ x 12″ (or larger) envelopes. Using scissors, cut the flap off the top of the envelope, as shown above. You cut the top off to make it super easy to get at the envelope’s contents. Next, write the date and title along the side of the envelope. Again, see the image at above for a reference. Make one envelope per project and place the envelopes next to each other on the shelf, with the date and title side facing outward.
Don’t attempt to organize, classify, or otherwise sort the envelopes. It will be tempting to do so, but the beauty here is that the system takes care of organizing for you. As you take a folder off the shelf to use it, return it to the far left.