Friday, May 18, 2007

P is for Paper

If you keep important information on your computer or PDA, maybe it's time to set up a paper-based system in a World Without Oil. For years I carried a Palm device with me and depended on it for many things. I love cool gadgets, and the Palm was a lot of fun. But I gradually realized some of the potential drawbacks: the batteries could run out, it could break if I dropped it, it could be stolen, or a software glitch could keep me from getting to the information just when I needed it most. So I decided to try something completely different.

For the last year and a half, I've been using a Moleskine notebook as my journal and information repository. I have tried various pens and the Pilot G-2 gel pen works best for me. I numbered the pages, and keep an index to the most important entries in the back. This makes it easier to find things once it starts to get full.

And if I need to make a "hyperlink" in one of my entries, I can write something like "see page 17." Yes, it's the awesome power and elegance of HWML (Hand Written Markup Language). Many things are much easier with HWML than they would be on the computer:
  • Dot your I's with hearts or smiley faces
  • Full page emoticons
  • Infinite font variations - draw the letters in any style you can imagine
  • Easily combine drawings and diagrams with your writing
  • Rotate text to any angle
  • Subtly express the emotions you were feeling through variations in your handwriting, with no extra conscious effort

I've found that I prefer this system and I would not go back. I like the fact that it never surprises me. I know exactly what it can do, and it works every time. No upgrades. No expiring software. No error messages. No hassle of keeping it charged up. If it falls out the window, it will survive. Check out Molskinerie for more inspiration.

Another option is the "Hipster PDA," a system based on index cards. D*I*Y Planner has a lot of templates for this that you can print out, or just use for ideas. I made a small calendar to paste in the front of my notebook. Paper can be more fun.

Welcome to our paper future.

1 comment:

Goatboy said...

Deadtree books are actually quite good for the storage and retrieval of information, aren't they?

And another great thing about the Moleskin PDA is that it's totally private. You don't have to worry that a compromised, insecure machine, or hacked network, or a cracked password will allow snooping, uninvited parties to monitor your business/thoughts.