Apple pen(cil) is not for taking notes

Photo by insung yoon on Unsplash

Coming out of another exciting apple event on April 20th, 2021, it is quite clear the star of the show was the new iPad pro.

As we have come to expect, it portrayed an even more powerful machine than ever before, all enclosed in a sheet of glass.

During the apple keynote (if you can call it that anymore with the recorded sessions), we heard some very high level tech jargon which actually means something to a lot of people — Not to me but to people I have never met and who I am sure are very nerdy and rich and hoping to expand their circle of friends — to them: hi there :)

iPad is something which is more than a blockchain and less than a bitcoin

It is always becoming more than it’s previous self and everyone acknowledges that but the vast majority does not know what to actually do with all this awesomeness. We mortals end up swiping left and right a few times, awe at the bright screen and then open up one of the streaming services to binge on something we could have done for a thousand dollars less.

Still, we know that it presents an idea of how to do things and some times we do try to be creative with it and become what have come to be known as ‘content creators’ — It has such a nice positive vibe to it.

iPad comes with a a few add-ons which are equally remarkable feats of engineering. Most notably it includes an apple pen or a pencil depending on which model it is. (the Pencil being the better of the two)

However when it comes to using one, it has been an intriguing experience as the first thing you see most people doing is taking notes with it.

They doodle and noodle and scribble and try to draw a shape once in a while. However, the struggle of doing so becomes even more apparent in meetings when someone opens it up and starts taking notes with his apple pen(cil) — Maybe it takes them back to their childhood or maybe it gives a bit of freedom to write things unevenly without adhering to margins or lines. It is quite possible that it gives an outlet to draw crap while other people talk nonsense in a meeting: secretly to keep yourself awake and look very interested in the topic at hand.

In the end I presume and within the realms of best case scenario, the person ends up with some hand written notes which DO NOT look like below at all:

And looks more like this:

While the overall affect it generates is wholesome, in reality and upon close scrutiny, its complete rubbish and akin to a doctor’s handwriting — in this case though, neither the doctor nor the pharmacist would know what to do with it or how to file it or present it to a third party.

Notes taking itself is not the goal.

This is an important piece that goes missing in our minds quite frequently.

Apple’s marketing around that does not help either.

Do not try or expect to do this please (freshly copied off of Apple’s website)

Notes taking is an exercise which is best done in parallel to live events — We are listening, watching, grabbing those important ideas and putting them down for future reference when at the time of our choosing, a bunch of keywords would bring the whole story back to life in our heads and we will construct a meaningful and shareable product out of it.

With me, taking notes using paper and pen has always problematic because it would take my focus off of what was being discussed and more times than ever, i would drift away drawing rectangles and squares and nudging their protruding edges in bigger squares in the hopes of ‘squaring’ them off.

I find myself in the same predicament when you replace all of that with fancy expensive toys.

Ok, paper is even worse: You lose paper or notebooks or cannot access them from different places or devices. (unless you take a picture of it with your phone and attach it with one of your favorite notes apps)

Now, what good is an article if without some data and numbers thrown in for legitimacy. Elaborating on the writing part a quick wikipedia lookup would reveal that the average hand writing speed is approximately 13 words per minute (WPM). Compared to which the average touch typist speed is 30–40 WPM and when given a task such as notes taking (flexible to make mistakes) it can easily go up to 50.

That is an almost 4X increased efficiency.

All of that while not missing a word of what is being said or a sight of what is being demonstrated.

Stick with a keyboard:

A magic one or one made out of a wood handle but anything which translates your eyes, ears and thoughts to a safe haven memory retentive platform at lightening (read thunderbolt if it helps) speeds in less than the blink of an eye.

Look at that beauty

If you are in a meeting, it is even better, a bit of nip and tuck here and there and the file is ready to be sent to your colleagues as minutes of the meeting — gosh, you just silently wowed everyone including the big chief and saved yourself any extra work afterwards.

Notes taking is the means to an end, not the end.

And if you really do need to draw a circle or a duck, then by all means do it and use any tools you might fancy but call it what it is,


Photo by Dhaya Eddine Bentaleb on Unsplash




Cant talk much so I write

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Habeeb Mustafa

Habeeb Mustafa

Cant talk much so I write

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