I’ve been playing around with different handwriting apps lately thinking this would be a great way to take notes when I’m in a meeting or just for the quick note on the go. I experimented with the following apps: Penultimate, Bamboo Paper, Draw for iPad, and iDraft (sorry couldn’t find the link in the app store anymore). While these apps have similar features, such as: sharing to Twitter, different colors, ability to edit previous notes, etc., experimenting with each of these apps has led me to ask this question: What is the value of doing something on an iPad that could be done just as easily and more efficiently using low tech options, like paper and pen?
Why I thought I could write better using the iPad and any number of different apps is beyond me. My handwriting is bad enough as is and is even worse using a virtual pen/my finger. Having gone through an exercise in futility, I am asking the question, why do we (myself included) continue to perpetuate older/traditional ways of thinking using new tools? This isn’t a new question, nor am I the first to ask it, but it’s necessary to continue asking this question since, and I’ll speak for myself here, I tend to fall back on what’s comfortable, what’s safe. I think this is why some late adopters have problems adopting new innovations, because they have a mindset grounded in the past rather than taking the opportunity to think differently about a task or operation. This isn’t to say that a person’s experiences will be useless to them as they adopt or attempt to adopt new innovations, but innovations imply change in some aspect, which I believe needs to result in a change in how we think and act. If we don’t change those two aspects of ourselves when adopting an innovation, then the intervention will surely fail.
Of the four apps I tested, I wouldn’t recommend any of them. While they all allow you to create content, they don’t serve a practical purpose unless you spend time practicing your handwriting using a specific app. It’s possible they would be useful if you wanted to sketch an idea or blueprint during a brainstorming session. Beyond that, these apps are no more than a perpetuation of old ideas on new technology, ignoring the true potential of the iPad as an opportunity to think differently about everything we do.
Here are some screen shots from the various apps.