Daily Archives: December 25, 2011 3:09 pm

IT tips #25: Use a notebook for the big stuff in life

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Use  conventional tools if they’re better suited to the job at hand. Notebooks (real notebooks, not the electronic kind) are cheap, robust, durable, don’t need electricity, don’t require any special skills, offer  fast random access, and boot up immediately.  They are less distracting in a hundred ways than a computer, and much quicker to use. They’re light and portable, and can be tilted, folded, bent, torn, listened to, stroked and smelled.

A notebook hides nothing away in files, folders and applications. If it’s in there, you’ll find it. Handwritten notes bear the indelible marks of the day when you made them – the colour, weight and angle of the pen, the speed of your writing, minute irregularities of line and shape. A coffee or red wine stain may remind  you  where you were when you made it. These things are erased or never inscribed by a computer.

Many brilliant people I have met from fields as diverse as management, retail, choreography, design, writing, academia and  computer programming use notebooks for  the big stuff – planning, thinking, sketching, dealing with people. By contrast, I’ve watched hours of working life go by where technology has provided the appearance of serious activity but achieved nothing.

My personal favourites, for design and paper quality, are the B5 notebooks from Muji that come in packs of 5 for £4. What’s yours?

 

 

 

 

The Steamboat, the Nutcracker and Cher Dumollet: Bon voyage and Happy Christmas

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On Christmas day of all days, I’ve had possibly the most interesting comment ever posted on my blog with regard to the score of the Nutcracker. Jesse Kleinman has pointed out the similarity between what is normally cited as the source for the contredanse in Act 1 of Nutcracker  (Bon Voyage, Cher Dumollet) and the New England song The Steamboat Quickstep. Both songs are nominally about boats, so is the New England song a borrowing from the French song via The Nutcracker? Maybe. But as Jesse points out, “It’s possible that Steamboat originated in Scotland and went to both France and New England”.

The Nutcracker and The Steamboat Quickstep: it’s an extraordinary connection. Even stranger is when you see the same tune turn up in Basque dancing.