Day 212 of Self Quarantine Covid 19 Deaths in U.S.: 214,000 VOTE!!
As Professor David Socha and I were collaborating on a paper about “Observe, Don’t Ask” and its role in the software product development life cycle, he pulled out his iPad and Apple Pencil and asked if he could share his notes.
For 20 years, our medium of collaboration was a white board. We would find a conference room with the biggest expanse of white board and begin a collaboration session. We’d both bring several colored markers to separate our notes while we visualized our thoughts.
At the end of a session we would take photos of our notes and use those images as fodder for our next round of collaborative writing.
Yet, since March and the Pandemic quarantine, we’ve been severely limited in our ability to collaborate around a white board. Now, Zoom is our medium of communication. Instead of a white board we are usually restricted to sharing a web page or a powerpoint presentation and talk around the shared screens.
The good news about Zoom is that we can continue our collaboration remotely AND capture a searchable transcript through Otter.ai.
Yet, something magical happened when David started writing notes on this iPad. For me, it transformed the experience into being back at the white board. We were fully collaborating again. Could it be as simple as the pixellated bits on the screen or was it being able to observe and think at the speed of writing. Instead of a complicated slide being blasted into my feeble brain, the beauty of handwritten notes allows me time to absorb and process the meaning.
Meaning and understanding at the speed of writing.
While Zoom has the annotation capabilities, it is hard for me to write using a mouse. It is far more natural to write with an Apple Pencil on an iPad.
I am giddy being able to almost experience whiteboarding with David again.
I finally ask David what application he is using on the iPad. Goodnotes he shares.
I download it.
I decide to do my morning notes on my iPad this morning instead of in my current Moleskine notebook. For over 30 years, I’ve carried a Moleskine notebook with me where ever I go. Today, I will try something different.
I wanted to jot down some thoughts about a blog post on searching and a tool I want to build – Personal Patterns. I create a notebook from a library of templates and start writing. Unlike with a Moleskine, I can change the colors of my ink, or type something, or drop a diagram from my photo library onto a page. I can write my notes or annotate a diagram. It is fluid and easy.
I continue making notes for an hour without thinking about the transition to this new medium.
As I stop, I need to somehow save the notebook I am writing in. I find the save button and also notice a search icon. “Nah,” I say to myself. “They couldn’t possibly be OCRing my hand writing and making it searchable.” So I try searching for “patterns.”
Now I am bouncing in my seat being surprised by joy.
Then, I wonder if when I sent the PDF of the notebook to myself that it created a searchable PDF. On my desktop, I open up the PDF image file. Up pops all the instances of “patterns.”
Once again the iPad platform and a terrific app like GoodNotes helps me to shift away from paper to digital. I was overjoyed when I was able to shift from paper based books to the Kindle digital format. Now, I can do the same thing with my note taking. My back pack just got lighter once again.
As with all of the advantages of shifting from paper books, everything I write is now saved in multiple places (iPad, desktop, the cloud) and it is searchable. I can find notes in my notebooks, just like I can find notes and annotations across my Kindle digital books and within Evernote. If I could only get 30 years worth of Moleskine notebooks into GoodNotes, I would really be a happy digital native.
In the midst of our pandemic and all of our existential crises, I am surprised by joy once again with how much easier my work and my collaborations will be going forward.
Thank you, David Socha!