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Taking notes on paper vs. glass in 2019

Software (currently, GoodNotes) and hardware (iPad Pro + Apple Pencil) are finally to a point where glass is competitive with paper (currently, Studio Neat Panobook, previously Baron Fig Confidant). I suspect we’re in a grey area like automatic vs. manual transmissions. Most folks won’t care and choose whichever is easier or at their disposal. A few will have very specific opinions or principles that lead their choices.

I am a man of principles and opinions.

The sensation & constraint of paper still beats glass. There is something about the resistance, the scratch, of a good pen across a finite sheet of paper. It’s easier for me to write “well” (opinions on my penmanship vary) on paper than on glass; something about the permanence of the ink or that my eyes are considerably higher resolution than glass displays. Filling notebook after notebook over the years and decades is vastly fulfilling in a way digital notes and writing aren’t.

The recall of software still beats note summarization. I flip through my digital notes quickly. Notionally, though not always accurately, I can search them via OCR. They’re always sync’d to some cloud, with me or quickly retrieved on whatever device is on my person. I can reference them in a window on my desktop computer or update them as though the glass was a sheet of paper at the ready. Organizing infinite notes in software is a gift and a curse.

The wildcards: I feel slightly precious in meetings when I unfold and start writing on glass. Cat drool doesn’t smudge glass.

By Adam Keys

Telling a joke. Typing.