The Here and Now of Notebooks

 

The notebook as a Central Tool of our Time

The medium, book is surely one of our most developed inventions ever and due to its long history, it is a firm element of the here and now. After all, it contains a specific potential that is absolutely current, even in the age of digitalisation.​

Virtual worlds are constantly changing and thereby fleeting. One day is so, and the next day is completely new. Through constant digital communication, information is reported every second. Computer screens are incessantly trying to get our attention and even if it is just the blinking of the cursor. Floods of words and images, rapid and of high-resolution – only the airplane mode can release us from the 24 hour digital noise. Books function differently, slower but also director, more physical. We sense the material and its three-dimensional quality. The feel of the surface, the smell of the cover and paper and not least, the visibility of time create a feel for the presence – those of the haptic object, the written ideas, and the writing itself. Notebooks make a very characteristic writing experience possible: attentiveness, a time to muse and collect your own thoughts and yourself. Opening up a book can have a similar decelerating effect and sharpening of the wits as when riding a train: to be in motion, yet sitting still – concentrated, alone. The immediacy with which images and sentences are brought to paper, the very individual characteristic style of handwriting and drawn images, bring the subjective experience and your own awareness into focus.

No wonder that notebook users have almost tender feelings for their analogue warehouse of ideas. No one wants his own story to appear and be stored within cracked monitors and battered keyboards. The love of a notebook is intimate, long-lasting and not one to be posted or shared. A space for you alone: made to last, instead of being made to throw away.

Hardly any object shows change as explicitly as a paper journal.

The consistency of books is certainly never to be confused with the static. There is hardly an object that shows change more clearly than a notebook – both the object and in your thinking. Diverse traces of coffee and wine, dirt and rain that mark the material and create an individual patina, tell of its use, of development and change. And not only on the outside, but also in regards to the content, notebooks are definitely dynamic investments. Texts on laptops are cut up, moved back and forth, constantly revised, optimised, completed and ultimately, overwritten and saved when they are perfect. This is the opposite of the immediacy of the written word, where every manual correction, every ripped out page, every crossed out letter of the continuous thought process is preserved.

It is not unusual that when browsing through your notes, hidden connections and forgotten memories come to light. In this way, work processes have their own form of presence and visibility. And when browsing, we are reviewing the chronology of a “natural system” of organisation that fits ideally to the operational function of the human brain. That is why information is surprisingly easy to find intuitively. In addition, things that are written and drawn analogue – as many different studies prove – are better remembered over a longer period of time anyway. Because during the first step of the work process, we already filter, rate, estimate and create a structure.

Handwriting beats the ten-finger system of typing.​

The notebook is misunderstood, if it is considered a pre-digital phenomenon and damned to a sad existence as a replaceable vintage accessory or a last alternative for conservative technophobes. The term Monotone-monochrome and notebooks do not fit together. They are a versatile instrument of our time: full of mindfulness and self-discovery. A notebook is a diary and personal companion, a place for ideas and a bearer of inspiration, a learning tool and a place for experimentation. A notebook is innovative and traditional, vibrant and calming, unique and universal all at the same time – just simply an essential tool for the here and now.

With each single entry the notebook becomes a more personal and valuable companion.