Well, I managed it…Just!
I have made it through an entire working week without using a pen or paper, and keeping myself organised solely by using mobile technology. This was a bit of a deportation from my usual remit of discussing events in the world of SEO and Social, however taking heed from my colleagues I decided to broaden my scope and try something new.
When I first started out on this, I was expecting to end the week with a eureka moment; a single event that would allow me to herald the use of mobile technology and disregard the use of the humble pen. However this didn’t happen, and it wasn’t for lack applications, or tech, or desire, or practicality, it was for something much deeper and sincere.
I have always struggled with writing. Having lived with a learning disability since my first days in primary school I would lament the activity of writing. My association with the written word was not one of learning and adventure; it was more of frustration and annoyance. Not having a “Kicking K” that was the same as everyone else’s, or constantly having to re-write assignments and stories because my handwriting was not legible enough. I knew what I wanted to write and how I wanted to write it, but the practical mechanics of forming letters and from those letters placing them in a sequence that was decipherable by the reader was an impossibility. It lead to me being regularly placed in the dunces corner and regarded as one of the simple kids at school, despite being able to explain and converse answers perfectly logically. So when my father taught me to use his old Remington typewriter (this was in 1994, and was way past its best by then) I instantly fell in love with the QWERTY keyboard. The ability to choose exactly what letter I wanted to print and have it look like it should was a real moment for me. With this confidence I persevered with my writing difficulties through tuition and with help from my teachers and parents I managed to grasp the ability to use a pencil well.
Fast forward to 2012.
We now have technology available to us that negates that need for the written word. This past week I have been using apps on my ipad to gete through my work. A week that consisted of; 9 internal meetings, 3 client meetings, 6 project meetings , 2 tele-conferences and a business “social” networking event that I would have taken along a notepad to log actions and notes. I also considered the day to day uses, taking notes when on the phone, scribbling down reminders on post it notes and leaving messages for people and the like, both the formal and informal note taking that we adhere to in normal marketing industry work.
For the taking of notes in a formal setting, I used the paper desk app. This allowed me to type and scribble notes from meetings. I could then upload those notes to my Google docs account and from there create tasks I could organise in my calendar. It was seamless and I really enjoyed using the app, and honestly when discussing a “new” media such as social and search people would accept my word with a little more authority as I whipped out the ipad and showed them lovely shiny internet pictures. I’m not saying that they didn’t listen before of course, but I think the image I projected by using this tool correlated with their interpretation of what a person who works in social would look like. Rightly or wrongly, I felt that I had more of their attention than I would have had otherwise. I would to create a Wi-Fi hotspot using my smartphone and could in real time carry out analysis work or supply information to them, adding to their perception that I was indeed one of the plugged in generation.
However in less formal situations I must admit it was tricky. The hasty scribbling of notes when on the phone was replaced by the familiar click of opening an ipad, then pulling up the application before trying to type whilst holding the phone proved difficult. I did try using the dragon dictation app to combat this, however as I am sure you can appreciate translating Scottish accents from a phone into legible text was impossible.
So what did I discover during the week?
It is possible to get through day to day work by using technology. Applications tailored to your specific purpose and needs can take care of that. Phone conversations could easily be changed into Skype conversations and notes can simply be copied and transferred into tasks, so in answer to my question at the start of the week… yes, it is possible to get through the week using mobile technology and without the use of a pen.
But for me it was different. I found that by neglecting something that I had worked so hard to conquer was self-defeating, and I found that towards the end of the week I was experiencing a sense of nostalgia and longing for my former foe. For me, the pen and ability to use it represents the capability to master a skill that is essential in everyday life. A sign that you are the same as everyone else and your academic ability matches your dexterity.
I think the key lies in a great use of both. The Ipad and its apps are great in formal setting, but for convenience, ease and nostalgia, I will opt for the humble pen every time.