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Digital vs. Analog (are you tired of this topic yet?)

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  • Digital vs. Analog (are you tired of this topic yet?)

    I have a problem. I have two good, workable systems. One is digital, the other is analog. That should be a good thing. I've been working with the paper system (index cards) for a few months now. The problem is that after I've spent some time with one system, I start to get restless and think that the other system would be better. So recently I've been itching to shift everything back to digital.

    It's the same old story; you've all heard it before. Digital is better for some things (manipulation of data, searchability, backups, better integration with email, web); analog is better for others (more accessible, easier to visualize, better support for my own memory). I wish I could combine the best of both worlds.

    This is a pressing question for me because I am a researcher/writer and keep extensive notes. This raises an additional question: Should I keep the notes on computer or index cards? Index cards again make things easier to see. But I can't search them and it takes a lot of work to organize them.

    Interestingly, while index cards are more portable for everyday notetaking in the library (i.e., easier to carry a stack of index cards than a laptop), they are less portable over the long term. (E.g., a years worth of notes on index cards weighs more and takes up more space than a laptop.) Thus, if I'm on a trip for any extended period of time, I find myself wishing all my notes were in text files on my computer.

    Any insights and/or advice?

  • #2
    Keep your notes and lists on the computer and print them out for portability and visibility. That's what I do!

    Do Mi

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    • #3
      Originally posted by madalu View Post
      Interestingly, while index cards are more portable for everyday notetaking in the library (i.e., easier to carry a stack of index cards than a laptop), they are less portable over the long term. (E.g., a years worth of notes on index cards weighs more and takes up more space than a laptop.) Thus, if I'm on a trip for any extended period of time, I find myself wishing all my notes were in text files on my computer.
      On the specific point of portability, most any palmtop computer can store thousands and thousands of text notes and fit into your shirt pocket. I keep my entire GTD system on one and it goes everywhere with me (but it stays home when I go watch the soccer game as palmtop#1 had a nasty end during a particularly boisterous game......)

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      • #4
        I take all my notes on index cards and put them in my inbox. In processing I save all notes in apropriate systems, work file, calendar, reference, project support material etc. General I don't keep any of the paper index cards.

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        • #5
          Try PersonalBrain (trial available at www.thebrain.com). It is digital but non-linear. Fully searchable. The latest version can be carried and run from a USB stick (make some backups though).

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          • #6
            Print on thin paper

            Originally posted by madalu View Post
            This is a pressing question for me because I am a researcher/writer and keep extensive notes. This raises an additional question: Should I keep the notes on computer or index cards? Index cards again make things easier to see. But I can't search them and it takes a lot of work to organize them.

            Interestingly, while index cards are more portable for everyday notetaking in the library (i.e., easier to carry a stack of index cards than a laptop), they are less portable over the long term. (E.g., a years worth of notes on index cards weighs more and takes up more space than a laptop.) Thus, if I'm on a trip for any extended period of time, I find myself wishing all my notes were in text files on my computer.
            Any insights and/or advice?
            Combine both worlds.

            I'm right in the middle of replacing my pack of index cards with 1-2 page summaries, stored in word processing files. Good, plain software (OpenOffice, MS Word) can embed diagrams, drawings or any visual cues I desire quite well. I print everything one-sided on ultra-thin paper. The pages are a little transparent, but the reduced weight is well worth this disadvantage. I can carry about 200 printed pages with me and the pack is still not thicker than a news magazine.

            As a matter of fact, I'm waiting for a reasonable ePaper gadget with note-taking and annotation capabilities. The existing ones can't display PDFs very well, don't have touchscreens, have reduced connectivity or proprietary technology (vendor lock-in).

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            • #7
              Welcome to the paralasis of CHOICE! You should watch this TED Talk about it. It may ease your mind to know what is happening to you...

              http://www.ted.com/index.php/talks/view/id/93

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              • #8
                Thanks for the replies

                Thanks for the TED talk, too. It made me decide to stick with my current system.

                Rather than obsessing about methods, I need to pretend there aren't any other options and to keep working with a system that works for me.

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