Monday, December 01, 2008

Techno-envy: Pulse pen

I recently went through a phase of techno-envy over something called the Pulse pen. It's a recording pen that you use to take notes in special notebooks, and, when you tap a spot in your notes, the pen plays the recording back to you. You can also upload the notes and accompanying audio files to your computer for later playback.

The pen also has a few other features: it can translate words into other languages; you can upload your notes and share your "pencasts," if you want to; and, best of all, if you draw a tiny 8-note keyboard, you can play a tiny piano. How cool is that?

I started thinking about the uses. It would be great for going to conference sessions, because then you'd be able to go back more easily to what was said. Taking notes promotes better retention than typing them, and anyway, conference etiquette still dictates that no one pull out a laptop and clack away while the speaker is speaking. Also, the conference notes could then be stored easily on the laptop, and, best of all, there was a very good deal on it at a local store.

Then reality set in. This would be a great thing for conferences and for students in big lecture halls, if, say, you're in law school (New Kid? What do you say?) or in a STEM discipline, because you can draw diagrams and annotate in ways that you can't do when taking notes on a computer. But how often do I want, or does anyone want, to take such comprehensive notes of, say, a large campus meeting? And if you used this in a small meeting and let everyone know that it was recording their words, as you should, everyone would clam up, I'm guessing.

In addition, I have enough problems writing in a Moleskine, since I'm reluctant to write something down unless it is Important, as I mentioned over at Chaser's a few weeks ago. How much more important would something have to be to get the Special Pulse Notebook treatment?
Also, my note-taking skills, such as they are, have gotten me this far; do I really need this kind of detail in the notes I take nowadays?

In the end, I reminded myself about the difference between want and need, and I didn't buy it. I'm curious, though, to see if anyone else has or what their experiences have been.


~profgrrrrl~ said...

OMG, I totally want one of those! (Although I don't know that I need it)

undine said...

I wish I could let it go, but I'm afraid I totally want one, too!

See, you could actually one, because I'm picturing complexification studies as needing all kinds of notes and diagrams.

AND--they now have a Moleskine-like notebook.

Mel said...

every time I see this in the store, I look at it longingly too -- although I REALLY don't have a use for it -- the things I would like to be able to better retain (in my files or in my memory) are all written texts, not aural. And, I have big problems with Special Pens and Special Notebooks and overly complexifying the rules about what I can write where and with what. God knows I don't need to make that even more expensive and complex.
So what do you think is the tempting part of it? the size? the stealth? kind of James Bond for the nerd set?

undine said...

"James Bond for the nerd set"--yes! For me, it's not so much the recording device, which you can turn off, as the idea that you can write things in a notebook and have them appear on your computer. Of course, I can accomplish the same thing by scanning notes to .pdf, but it's just not the same.

And at some deep nerd level, I must believe that having a Special Notebook will somehow make the thoughts deep and special, too. That's the Hemingway Delusion of Moleskine, which is why they put a tag in every notebook telling you that H. wrote with one.

I'm trying to remind myself of another such "must have" that I didn't resist: one of those pen scanners that I thought would be so useful for visiting libraries. Turns out that by the time you scan, upload, and fool around setting up the text, you could have typed the stuff much more quickly.