My low-tech research tools

I carry a pocketbook and a pen everywhere. At night, my pocketbook is by my bed. All creative workers should carry notebooks.

Organizing and collecting ideas are different tasks. My pocketbook is strictly for collection. Every few days,  I start a new page: a list of reminders on one side, and diagrams on the other side. Important ideas get processed and stored on my laptop. I throw away used pocketbooks.

It is difficult to find quality pocketbooks. Here are my recommendations:

  • My pocketbook must last a few months. Paper must be thick and of good quality. I prefer unlined paper. I need a ribbon marker to quickly find the current page. Paperblanks make some good and inexpensive Pocket Companions fitting the bill. Alas, Paperblanks does not sell directly to customers. The retail info on the Paperblanks’ web site is helpful.
  • I prefer black gel pens.  Rechargeable pens create less garbage and they are often of better quality. For about a year, I have had good luck with my Zebra gel pens.

Note: I do not profit in any way if you buy a Paperblanks pocketbook or Zebra pen.

Published by

Daniel Lemire

A computer science professor at the University of Quebec (TELUQ).

2 thoughts on “My low-tech research tools”

  1. I use a Moleskine like Preko. I hold onto them when they are used up, because sometimes it’s fun to look back and see what a graphomaniac I can be. I also prefer graph paper lines since I tend to write at an angle without lined reminders. I use pencil, so I can erase misspellings, but if the mistake is anything other than a “typo”, I think the best practice is to just strike it out. Something learned from 10th grade chemistry I still actually use.

    I have tried a number of online and digital tools for the same purpose as the notebook, but nothing can beat the convenience of it (even a PDA, back when those were in vogue). Maybe one day we’ll have portable computers as easy to write on as pen and paper. I wonder if I’ll switch.

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