Paper is a wonderful technology for the storage and retrieval of observations. Five hundred years later, many of Leonardo’s notebooks are still around to astonish and inspire us. Fifty years from now, our own notebooks, if we work up the initiative to start keeping them, can be around to astonish and inspire our grandchildren, long after our tweets and Facebook posts have been forgotten.

—Walter Isaacson,
The Lessons of Leonardo: How to Be a Creative Genius
(via Austen Kleon)

Unfinish, by Baron Fig

Unfinish, by Baron Fig

I’m a big fan of Baron Fig’s Limited Edition Confidants (my wife goes through notebooks so fast that she tends to always have used the most recent Limited Edition by the time the next one comes out), and this one looks especially fun and whimsical.

From the product page:

This horse has no head.

That’s right. It’s up to you to give it one. Unfinish is a notebook filled with odd, unfinished pictures that invite you to finish, add, convolute, torment, tickle —and everything in between.

Galen Leather Goods








I‘ve mentioned here before that I’m a big fan of leather. While there’s something to be said for the enjoying the naked beauty of well-designed tools and equipment, I can’t help but love leather phone cases, leather tablet sleeves, leather bags, and leather notebook covers.

Recently, the folks at Galen Leather sent me a few products to check out—specifically, their Hobonichi Techo cover, their five-slot pen case, and their three-slot pen case. I’ve been using the Techo cover and the five-slot pen case ever since, and my wife has been using the three-slot pen case (in stunning navy blue) as a wallet as well as a pen holder.

I must admit that, earlier this year, I stopped using my Techo. Until then, inspired by this site’s founder, Patrick, I’d been using the Hobonichi Techo as daily log, but a while back I put it on the shelf in favor of a return to daily long-form journaling (I just can’t seem maintain both habits at once). But, as tends to happen, the daily journaling eventually became, at worst, weekly journaling, and, at best, every-few-days journaling. The Galen Leather Techo cover, though, is a such a beautiful piece of craftsmanship that I’ve returned to using my Techo every day.

I don’t have much to say about the five-slot pen case, except that it, too, is made of quality leather. It does its job, it also conveniently holds a pocket-sized notebook, like Field Notes, and it’s been a staple in my bag ever since I got it.

As for the three-slot pen case, I’ll let my wife tell you what she thinks:

Holding this leather is bliss. The smooth sophistication of the crisp leather and the simplicity of the design makes this pen case a joy to look at, and even better to use.

This case holds three pens inside, which is a lovely balance of functionality and design. Inside also sits a convenient little pocket. The minimal accoutrements of the case, with a zipper that sits flush against the grain, makes it easy to carry, handle, and store.

The design is so sleek and fashionable that the case can double as a wallet. The pocket inside can hold a number of cards, with a plastic sleeve for ID front and center. So far, after a few weeks of use, the leather has held up quite well, with little marring or scratching. I expect this leather to age beautifully.

I think that sums things up. If you like leather, Galen has our recommendation.

In Praise of the Humble Composition Book | Steve Best

In Praise of the Humble Composition Book | Steve Best

So it is that I return to my old friend the composition book. I like the fact that while they are made by a host of different manufacturers, most are essentially the same, and I must reiterate that for me, they really are the perfect size. . . . Since they are so popular, one can find them in just about any drug store, grocery store, or big box store. They are cheap in price, yet they are sturdy and durable. They are also infinitely customizable.

What we believe in.

The 19th Century Moral Panic Over . . . Paper Technology | Slate

The 19th Century Moral Panic Over . . . Paper Technology | Slate

Detractors delighted in linking “the volatile matter” of wood-pulp paper with the “volatile minds” of pulp readers. Londoner W. Coldwell wrote a three-part diatribe, “On Reading,” lamenting that “the noble art of printing” should be “pressed into this ignoble service.” Samuel Taylor Coleridge mourned how books, once revered as “religious oracles … degaded into culprits” as they became more widely available.

By the end of the century there was growing concern—especially among middle class parents—that these cheap, plentiful books were seducing children into a life of crime and violence. The books were even blamed for a handful of murders and suicides committed by young boys. Perpetrators of crimes whose misdoings were linked to their fondness for penny dreadfuls were often referred to in the newspapers as “victims” of the books.

Wild bit of history.

DNA of Long-Dead Cows Read from Pages of Medieval Books| New Scientist

DNA of Long-Dead Cows Read from Pages of Medieval Books| New Scientist

Seven years ago, Matthew Collins at the University of Copenhagen in Denmark and his colleagues had the idea of applying state-of-the-art genetic analysis techniques to the animal skin pages of medieval documents.

“We realised all these dead cows have a date written on them,” he says. “We thought, ‘This is crazy, why aren’t we exploiting this’.”


How the creator behind the viral bullet journal turned his own life hack into a full-time business

How the creator behind the viral bullet journal turned his own life hack into a full-time business

Carroll emigrated to the United States from Vienna, Austria in the late 1990s, to attend college. At the time, he was solving a lot of his own organizational problems, including carrying too many notebooks.

“I wanted to figure out a way for me to be able to capture whatever I was thinking, however I was thinking it and still house it in a way that was organized and easily accessible.”