Life Technology

Note Taking Adventures at MinneBar

I was going to title this “iPad vs. Field Notes” … but that’s a little bit too dramatic for me. Really, it was just me using MinneBar as an opportunity to test out two different ways of taking notes and see which one worked the best for me. These are my overall impressions.


It actually worked better than I expected, both with and without the keyboard. The keyboard was nice, but it is big and took up space (both at a premium in a packed session). I just used the built-in Notes program and it worked just fine.

For the most part, I recommend using the on-screen keyboard to take notes and just take down what you need. The main problem, for me, was finding a comfortable position to sit and type in when there was no desk or table top. Typing, for me, is relatively fast but mistypings and misspellings were pretty common because I was trying to get down more notes than I could type.

One thing I did notice is that I spent more time concentrating on typing notes than on the speaker for parts of the session as I tried to get certain things down.

Field Notes

I’ve gotten into the habit of using a 48-page Field Notes notebook to take down my daily todo list and any thoughts I have during the day. I also tend to doodle or sketch in them as well, so I wanted to see how well it would hold up as a note-taking apparatus.

If I was going to give one bit of advice about using a notebook it would be to get a GREAT writing utensil. Buy as many different pens as you can find and try them all out, you are bound to find something that you love and you need to in order to make it worth the effort to use a notebook.

I’m going between three at the moment, but that is for another time.

The Field Notes notebook was perfect for many things like writing down short little notes as quickly as possible. Sadly, I had a substandard pen with me at the time so I can’t read some of the notes because the ink becomes too light. Maybe the best thing is that the notebooks are small and the feedback immediate. You can write down a short little blurb faster than on an iPad and then set it aside until the moment you need it again. It is also easier to sketch things in the notebook.

It is hard, however, to write with certain pens if you can put the notebook against something (like your leg) so you get into the habit of sitting in funny ways to get around it.

You should always have a surface to write on at conferences.


Neither and both. Both worked well and I liked using both but you really just have to try out the different options and choose for yourself.

I choose the pen and Field Notes. Now I just need to find a better pen.

2 replies on “Note Taking Adventures at MinneBar”

Honestly, that’s what I love about it. Sometimes it is best to toss aside the tech and just get as close to the “bare metal” as possible.

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