Writing on my IPlod: a quick techno-snigger for Luddites

HTWB IPlodDespite the dazzling array of IT we now carry around so we can email Australia while grocery shopping in Toronto and update our Facebook page in the shower, there are still times when low-tech stuff wipes the floor with high-tech wizardry.

Picture the following scenario

INTERIOR – Business networking group of 24 people finishing breakfast, all sitting around a huge table. Coffee cups are being replenished, waiters are clattering plates, participants are trying discreetly to remove slivers of tough, overcooked English bacon from between their premolars.

HOST: Greetings everyone and please welcome our guest speaker this morning, (NAME), who is going to talk to us about (TOPIC).

SFX: Participants clap, wipe mouths with napkins, sneak glances at smartphones and turn them to “silent,” scratch noses.

SPEAKER (begins talk about very interesting topic)

SUZE opens her paper notebook, flips top off ballpoint pen, begins to take notes

SUZE’S NEIGHBOUR opens his case, extracts a largish tablet – an IPad. Powers it up. Makes a selection from icons. Makes further selections. Fiddles around adjusting lighting and various other functions. Eventually ends up on page that looks like that of a paper notebook, feint lines and all. Fumbles in case and extracts a stylus. Prepares to write by hand, with stylus, on glass screen of tablet.

SUZE’S NEIGHBOUR (whispering): Sorry Suze, I missed the last couple of points the speaker made. Can you remind me what she said?

SUZE (sniggering to self, also whispering): Of course. Here, have a look at my notes and feel free to copy them.

One admission, however

Twenty years ago, to shoot and complete the above as a video would have required a light location crew and about 6 hours of post-production costing around £2,000 or nearly $3,200 US (early 1990s prices).

Today, I could shoot it on my phone and have it uploaded to YouTube within an hour, all up, for the cost of the electricity needed to power the batteries.

So is being a Luddite really so lacking in cost-effectiveness?

What do you think? Am I being a boring old f*rt here, or is there still some merit to simple, quick solutions to issues that do not deserve complex solutions?

I know there are benefits down the line from capturing notes and thoughts on an IT device rather than with pen and paper, because of course once the information is implanted into one device provided you have the right apps in place that information becomes instantly available across all your IT.

But a few notes on a paper page? And apps or not, do you want to transfer them verbatim across to something else? Or do you want to log them in your mind to mentally develop and edit into something new anyway?

Please share your thoughts!

While you’re here, don’t forget to stop by my Bookshop…books and eBooks to help you write better – and to give to friends and family…

photo credit: modenadude via photopin cc




  1. Hello Suze, I love this irreverent poke at us techies. In all fairness I agree, there are times when a simple pad and pen definitely trump my plethora of electronic gadgets! As you say, I can choose to keep the notes or not, transcribe them or not, develop them before or after I transcribe them.

    Your description of your neighbour setting himself up really made me giggle.

    Carry on writing by whatever means 🙂

    • Thanks Shelley … I love my IT really although I refuse to have a tablet or laptop, only because I know if I do I will take my work everywhere and never get away from it. At least with only a desktop that’s hardwired into the concrete in my office I can get away from writing from time to time! But I do have a smartphone…. aha…. 😉

      • Hi Suze – yes I have lots of tech and you are quite right, it goes everywhere and there is almost no escape. Except when playing games 😉 or reading a book on the Kindle App -which I now also have on my touch screen laptop. Smartphones are fun, although a bit too small for serious typing I find 🙂

        • You’re right about the smartphones being too small for serious typing. I marvel at my son using his IPhone – he types incredibly fast and with relatively few mistakes. Yet when I try my fingers and thumbs seem to hit three characters at the same time … 🙁

  2. I loved it, very good point, as much as I love my iPad it’s rare I use it for notes, nothing beats pen and paper, although somewhere I have a eon that translates my writing into word for me.

    I have however just gone through old photos, used an app to edit and merge them and in seconds added a personalised birthday greeting to my nephews Facebook page, all for free. I think these gadgets come into their own for creativity.

    • I know Helen – this article is only a chuckle and of course there are amazing things you can do with these contemporary tools. It just makes me smile, though, when I go to meetings and see all these people staring into small charcoal-gray rectangles and poking at them slowly with their index fingers … when I can write down screeds of stuff in half the time. And I don’t even do shorthand. Maybe someone should invent an app that allows you to use shorthand on a tablet … or has that happened already??

      • I have tried a number of note taking apps over the past couple of years and the only one that I haven’t tried that looks like it may work is around £7, not sure I have the confidence in it to spend that sort of money.

        I haven’t yet found a quicker way of making notes than a pen and paper and I’m honestly not sure I would want to. There’s just something about using a really nice pen (I have several Cross biro’s and used to have a wonderful Waterman fountain pen) and I still have a penchant for nice notebooks!

        I think as with anything, there’s a balance to be had, although when not on my laptop I do tend to be found attached to my iPad, but it is so much more than a work tool, I read on it, I socialise on it, I create on it, I watch TV and movies on it, and I love it.

        • What is it about nice paper notebooks? I love them too … and I always feel ashamed of myself when my handwriting is messy in them. Must be a hangover from school days…! I do hear what you say about tablets enabling so many activities and creativity though. They are amazing things.

  3. Good point 🙂

    Yes, there are times when a pen and paper beat a tablet.

    There’s also a point to watch out in business networking meetings – people may think you are doing other things on a tablet rather than paying full attention to the speaker.

  4. Just love it Suze.
    I am always intrigued by your write up.
    Your neighbour insert is just a big laugh for me. I really did giggle.
    Ok! This is my view, the whole tech world will rule the world no doubt about it.
    I am a gadget addict from iPhone, iPad, kindle, wireless printer, wireless sound system etc but in all that I am still largely in the generation where writing & taking notes with a pen and paper a winner for me.
    It gives me good handwriting control and the ability to read and check after.
    My typos are less when I hand write to typing. Tech world !!!
    Try spell something and type very fast, you could mean a complete different and atimes embarrassing content.
    There is a plus side of spelling corrections though.
    Like I always say, there is a revolution, it is an inevitable change and with change, can be difficult.
    A plus side why I took up the plunge to encourage speaking about our aspiring young ones with the debating event.
    I just hope the whole tech world does not form a new language years to come. Some text abbreviation are still new & strange to me.

    • Thanks for your comment Alison – great to hear from you here! I think the upshot of all this is that both electronic and paper-based writing methods have their respective places and it’s possible that this will continue for some years yet to come.

      Where some people have gone overboard is by trying to replace all paper-based functions with apps and gadgets. That’s where my neighbor at the table went wrong, I suspect; he was trying too hard with the high-tech and forgot about common sense.