Today is Journal Day


Today, December 9th, is a day I designated a few years back as Journal Day. There are many ways to celebrate, or traditions one could keep, to mark the day. Here are some ideas…

  • This might be the day to take out previous journals and reflect on where you were then versus where you are today.
  • This is a great day to open a new journal and begin to plan for the coming year — for instance, what things you’d like to accomplish or places you’d like to travel to.
  • You might let someone you trust read one you have kept and get to know the “real” you.
  • Perhaps gift a journal to another person in your life who practices or you feel could benefit from doing so.
  • Or, maybe, be so bold as to spend a year keeping a journal for someone else in your life whom you love and spend your days with — write down their day as you saw it or the things you were thinking about them at that time. How wonderful a gift would it be to allow someone close to “see” themselves and their year through your eyes?
  • Like the above, start a journal for your kids that are too young to keep their own. We forget so much of those early years. This is a way to remember those special times. This is the sort of thing that would make a meaning high-school graduation gift when they get older.

These are just a few of the ways you can celebrate. If you come up with others, I would love to hear about them. Shoot me a message on Twitter or use the hashtag #journalday and I will try to add them here.

The invention that helped me write again – BBC News

The invention that helped me write again – BBC News

When Emma Lawton was 29 she was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease.As a graphic designer, drawing is a huge part of her life but over the past three years the tremor in her hands has grown more pronounced stopping her from writing and drawing straight lines.Enter Haiyan Zhang and her invention that is changing Emma’s life.

Via my friend Matt Lang, who reminds us that there is much digital technology that is great. Life changing, even.

Paper is not broken.

My friend Steve Best recently sent me a link to yet another tablet like device promising to replace paper to get my take. It seems interesting enough at first glance, with a typically stylish video attempting to make the case. But, my take on all of these things is that, in order to be relevant, they must start from a premise that rings false for me and most others I know who love and use paper. That being, that paper is somehow broken or inferior. Or, even worse, they make the assumption that you are using your paper based products poorly and that you are too incompetent to solve it in any way other than their digital “solution”.

I’m going to rip this false premise apart by using the very words they do in their introductory video. Here it is:

They start with this line…

“Paper is the ultimate tool for thinking. It lets your mind roam freely, without restrictions. Lets you focus, without distractions. ”

So, were off to a good start. They lay out three out of a few dozen ways I could easily enumerate why paper is better than any digital tool I can think of. Then…

“But if you love paper, you probably struggle to keep track of your notebooks,”

False premise #1. No, I don’t, actually. Neither does anyone I know. Now, maybe I live in my own little paper bubble and this is a real problem, but I suspect not. And, I would suggest to those people for whom this is a problem that perhaps they should find a way to only use one large bright colored notebook that is not easily lost.

“…Print a lot of documents,”

False premise #2. I can copy and easily print and/or share anything I write in under a minute by scanning it as a PDF document with my smartphone.

“…Or have a desk that looks like this”.

This is where they show a shot of a desk strewn with paper and pens. Once again, making the assumption that there’s something wrong with that. Some people may see a cluttered mess. Those of us who know the truth, see a creative mind at work.

But, it’s the “solution” — their product — that really gets me. Take a good look at that video. Is there a single thing they are showing — the writing, the reading, the multiple notebooks, etc. that you can’t do right now with what you have? One that is worth $379.00 (their pre-order price the final is promising to be almost $800) to “fix”. It’s trying so hard to be “just like paper” that I’m left back at the question of why I would want to spend almost $400 to do everything I can do today with real paper for under $40. If paper and notebooks are such a burden then why are you trying so hard to be just like it?

But, that’s the rub. These tools have to convince you that what you are using and/or how you are using these things are broken in order to sell you a solution to fix it. It’s a classic straw man argument.

But I’m here to tell you that paper is not broken. I refuse to accept that premise because it can’t be proven. In fact, the opposite is far more likely. I don’t have to back it up, charge it’s battery, change it’s format to be opened by something else once the app maker goes out of business, or let it co-exist on a device with a hundred other things competing for my time and attention. It’s a technology that’s a couple of thousand years old and has worked reliably, virtually unchanged, in that time. It’s better than any digital solution in fundamental ways. Not the least of which is the fact that it has been proven to last for a thousand or more years given the right care.

So, don’t let anyone tell you paper is broken. It’s digital, that has yet to be proven.

The Revenge of Analog: Real Things and Why They Matter by David Sax

The Revenge of Analog: Real Things and Why They Matter by David Sax


A funny thing happened on the way to the digital utopia. We’ve begun to fall back in love with the very analog goods and ideas the tech gurus insisted that we no longer needed. Businesses that once looked outdated, from film photography to brick-and-mortar retail, are now springing with new life. Notebooks, records, and stationery have become cool again. Behold the Revenge of Analog.

I was interviewed for this book and am told I’m featured in it. I have yet to receive my copy but it looks great. Surely of interest to the readers here. I’ll post a full review once I receive my copy and have a chance to dive in.

How I Use Notebooks – Mike Vardy on Medium

How I Use Notebooks – Mike Vardy on Medium

I don’t use them as a means to keep a to-do list. Instead, I use them to ensure that I get the right things done. Paper helps me connect. There is an ever-present feeling about it, one that gives me the knowledge that capture is just a few pen or pencil strokes away.

Long time readers know I love getting a peak at how others work. Mike’s a friend so this is an especially fun one for me.

The Lost Virtue of Cursive – The New Yorker

The Lost Virtue of Cursive – The New Yorker

The laminated papers with cursive-writing instructions, taped to every one of the tyke-size school desks with the sweeping attached arms, were sad and beautiful at once, in the special way of obsolete educational technology, like the Apple IIe, or the No. 2 pencil itself. For me, a writer of strong fuddy-duddy credentials, the sad dramatic irony really was too much. You see, cursive isn’t being taught in my daughters’ school anymore, and hasn’t been for at least six years, as long as I’ve had children in the public schools. Who would tell the cursive that it was no longer needed?

Slice Planner: First Notebook Connected to Digital Calendars by Evopaper — Kickstarter

Slice Planner: First Notebook Connected to Digital Calendars

Anyone who has followed my work for a while knows my feelings about crowd funded projects. I receive a lot of requests to post about unreleased, yet close to fruition, products. Especially those on Kickstarter. And, while I have linked to a few here and there in the past, I almost never do so anymore. The main reason being that I prefer to focus on products and apps that are available to solve a problem or fill a need for my readers right now —  today. The second being that many of the products I have linked to in the past have either shipped half baked or not come to market at all, which then puts my recommendations in question. So, the fact that I’m linking to — and full heartedly recommending — The Slice Planner should carry tremendous weight.

The folks who make the Slice Planner were kind enough to send me one and I have been using it daily since I received it last week. It’s really well made with a ton of nice touches and I quickly integrated it into my daily planning. I absolutely adore the layout. I’ve long been enamored with the chronograph-style time blocking method they employ having first used it in the Muji Chronotebook (of which, I still have a few unused). But, having some space at the bottom of the page for my daily tasks and a full dot gridded facing page for notes allows me to have it as a single notebook for facing the day ahead.

Quality wise, it’s pretty close to the Baron Fig Confidant. Good paper, sewn binding, cloth cover, and two cloth ribbons. The paper is not great with fountain pens but not terrible either. But, gel and ballpoint pens work fine. There’s also some other handy pages in the front for “Goals and Ideas of the Month” and “Highlights of the Month” so one can record a higher level view of the days ahead. But, my favorite touch is the single page at the end of the book encouraging one to write and essay about the past few months.

So, if one were to only get in on the Kickstarter for the notebook alone it would be worth the price. But, as is pointed out, the planner is part of a “hybrid” system that includes and iOS/Android app that can read your evens and notes and merge them into a digital calendar or otherwise share your notes via email, etc. The truth of the matter is that the app is in the very early stages and I had some issues with installing the beta so I’ve not had a good opportunity to try these features. That said, I can see it’s on the right track and it will be quite impressive once it’s delivered.

For me, I’ve been very happy just using the planner stand-alone and have backed the project happily. I encourage you to give it a serious look.