These days, digital is definitely in. Is it time to send the office pen and paper supply into retirement? Let’s find out.
Do you know when in history the pen became a technological innovation? Well, it can be traced back to the ancient Egyptians in 3000 BC, who used a reed dipped in ink. Or, if you want to trace it back to metal nibs, that would put it at 79 AD. And ballpoint pens were patented in 1888 AD—but weren’t widely used until about 50 years later. And the pencil? The graphite-filled version that we all remember from school has been around in a rough state since 1662.
Our office technology has changed a lot since 1662—or even 1938. Are the pencil and pen able to keep up or should they be given a gold watch and hearty thanks for their long service? In this post, we'll look at five things that are making the pen, pencil, and paper triad look just a bit old-fashioned.
Five New Things That Are Ready to Show Your Pen to the Door
The following five things are poised to make an onslaught onto the usefulness of pen and paper in the modern office. Aside from the environmental benefits—less waste! less resources used!—they may offer a considerable savings in time and effort.
The Smart Pen. The smart pen, also called a digital pen, is not a pen. Okay, actually, it is a pen. It has ink, and you can write with it on paper. The main difference is that you don't have to transcribe your notes to your computer or try to draw on your seven-inch tablet screen. Every line—be it word or sketch—is transferred via mobile app to your iOS or Android device, or via Wi-Fi to your Evernote account. (See point four.) Some even connect directly to your computer for instant syncing. And, at $100-$200, they’re not as expensive as all that connectivity sounds.
Sticky Notes. Sticky Notes is a Windows program that emulates, well, sticky notes. My screen is usually dotted with virtual reminders to check a bill, write a blog, call a client, or do some other vital task. My desk, however, stays mercifully note-free. Most of the time.
Google Calendar. Google Calendar is like your desktop calender gone to the cloud. Not only can you use it to manage appointments, send out reminders and invitations, and let key people know when you are (and are not) available to chat, you can also control your privacy settings. Work contacts don’t need to see your personal activities, and friends don’t have to deal with work spillage. Best of both worlds in one place.
Evernote. Evernote takes the simple jot-a-reminder concept of Sticky Notes one (or two or three) steps further. You can use Evernote to store notes long and short, as the name suggests. But you can also use it as a sort of digital folder, corralling web pages, photos, articles, and other information. And you can access this folder anywhere and send it to anyone, and all participants can share in real-time.
Your Voice. Yes, even though your voice is arguably based on technology that’s way older than the pen, it’s ready to push the pen to the sidelines. This is thanks to apps that use text-to-speech and voice recognition technology. Although this tech definitely needs editing and proofreading, it’s one more thing that has no use for a pen.
Does this mean that we’re switching to all-digital? I have a confession to make. As I write this post, a pen and scratch pad are sitting next to my computer. And I use them all the time. Tune in to Techsperts Talk next week as we discuss why pen and paper do have a place in our office.