No More “Mr. Notes Guy”

Hey! Look at me over here! I’m on stage!

I am a journalist.

Not the type that Donald Trump’s White House seems to hate; perhaps it would be more precise to add a hyphen and say that I am a journal-ist, meaning that I love taking notes in a hardcover journal.

I’ve been doing this for years — since I was 16, in fact — the result of which is that a couple of shelves in my home library are lined with lined books documenting my thoughts, reflections and to-do lists. While these books are more practical in their year of use (yes, it usually boils down to a book a year), it’s kinda fun to look back and see what I was doing, to whom I was talking and what I was thinking at this exact time five years, or a decade, or even longer ago.

So it’s somewhat a paradox that I jotted down the thesis and supporting notes for this post in my 2017 journal…because while doing so at a recent conference in Toronto, I realized that I was practically the only one there actually doing so.

In a nutshell…

Nobody takes notes anymore.

Well, not by hand, anyway. And not by thumb or fingers either, because the act of note-taking has not “gone digital” to the keyboard, tablet or phone screen.

No, note-taking has gone the route of the lens, as people have taken to collecting data by snapping pictures of it. The selfie has begat the slidie. (See pictures above!)

This is not a brand new phenomenon, but it was really knocked home at the ResolveTO start-up conference I referenced earlier. Never mind the speakers or people on stage; PowerPoint slides were the event’s mega-stars, and conference-goers a gaggle of snap-crazy paparazzi.

I have no problem with this personally, nor as a conference attendee.

But as a speaker, this changes everything.

Ironically, “slidies” put the onus back on the words themselves, quite the different tact to the “big image” or one-word backdrops that have been conference on-screen de rigeur over the past couple of years. You want your point to get across? Then your words (or text-heavy words-and-image combos) have to be photo worthy, and more importantly, make sense later on when you’re not around.

This conference attendee behavior reminds me much of what I see at concerts these days, namely people obsessed with capturing the whole thing on their phones for later viewing, ignoring the “in the moment”-ness of being there live.

But it’s easier to adapt to emerging consumer behavior than to change it, so to stay relevant for my next speaking engagements, I guess it’s time to sex up the on-screen typography…or better still, revert to the slide that I myself used at ResolveTO: