Tools of The Trade: A Review of the Moleskine (Digital) Writing System

For those who are familiar with Moleskine, this is typically what your notebook looks like, but now, there is a digital version and it doesn't look much different.

For those who are familiar with Moleskine, this is typically what your notebook looks like, but now, there is a digital version and it doesn't look much different.

To follow up on my previous post about reconnecting with your joy, I am moving forward with my own joyful activity: formatting an aspect of my dissertation for submission to a journal in the fall. I know, most of you won’t consider writing ANOTHER paper joyful, but I do, so there.

Anyway, knowing that this is what I was hoping to get accomplished this summer, my family gave me a birthday gift only a writing nerd would appreciate. I received the Moleskine (Digital) Writing System. The official name does not include the word "Digital" but I add it here to point that out. So what is it, you might ask? Well, let me tell you…

The Moleskine Writing System is a way to electronically document your thoughts. It comes with an electronic pen with actual ink, and a real paper book! The cool part is that both the pen and the book are coded to a software application that records your pen strokes on the paper. Here is an image of what syncs with your device after you write in the notebook:

Moleskine2-450x800.jpg

The ink in the pen is black, so that is what you will see on the paper. The software allows you to choose the color of the ink that you see on the image. I chose purple (hint hint), but you can choose from a range of colors. The notebook is your paper document, and it is coded with faint dots that act like navigation points allowing the software to map and create an electronic image of what you write. You can then update the document as often as you like and witness this update in real time on your device. You can save the document to any device using the software (mine is on my iPhone).

Now you are probably asking: does it transcribe that chicken scratch into editable text? Yes, it is actually remarkably good and I only have to make a few edits. I believe it also improves over time as it becomes more familiar with my handwriting. This was the one feature I absolutely needed, and while there are other options to write on a tablet with a digital pen, this is one of the best ones that does this on a seemingly ordinary paper notebook with a pen that uses real ink! I think for academics, this is an incredibly useful feature.

It will also allow you to share notes via email, by hovering over the envelope on the upper right-hand corner of the notebook page. From your device, the software then creates a file and opens your email program. You can then send the file on to yourself or share it with someone else. It is a very well integrated app. Here is a link to their website for all the info on how it works - it is rather amazing, really.

By the way, I am not being paid to endorse Moleskine. I’m just someone who is looking to learn how technology will improve upon old-school tried and true methods of note taking, and for me, it is a lot better on paper. I see technology as a tool, so before I adopt it for myself, or suggest it to someone, I want to see how useful it is to complete my tasks. I see the Moleskine Writing System as a useful way to document my thoughts as I go about creating my journal articles. If the notebook is lost, I still have my notes backed up electronically.

Technology shouldn’t be adopted “just because”, or to be “cool”. Really…how old are you, 7?! This thing can become expensive and a waste of valuable time for academics. It is unfortunate that often I see this thoughtless approach to tech adoption in schools. Children only do 4th grade once, and education budgets are often so very tight. Before we introduce technology into the pedagogy, let’s make sure that there is documented evidence that learning outcomes will be improved…I repeat – improved! Same goes with you and what you are trying to accomplish as a Collegiate Gigster.

The Moleskine Writing System (pen and notepad) will set you back about $200, so it is not inexpensive. Therefore, make sure that this technology will help, not hinder your progress, and that it is worth your hard-earned money. It is working well for me, but please take note that it is still expensive and time consuming to adopt technology such as this, so make sure it is a useful tool with obvious and documented benefits for you as well.

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This blog post is part of a newsletter I publish weekly called The Gigster 'Zine! It is a production of the Colégas Group, an organization that seeks to offer new opportunities for anyone with a college degree. To learn more about us, to receive valuable strategies for improvement, and to find innovative employment opportunities, sign up for the complete newsletter at colegasgroup.com.