Navigating the jotter pad

As someone who works on the web, I rarely see criticisms of physical objects (Design of Everyday Things doors excepted) that this paragraph from James Ward’s Adventures in Stationery delighted me:

I find jotter pads confusing. The spiral binding across the top makes it easy to take notes, flipping each page over at a feverish rate as words are quickly scribbled down, but I gradually lose sense of what is ‘forwards’ and what is ‘backwards’ within the notebook. I get lost by the middle of the pad. Normally, when trying to find a particular note or idea I hurriedly wrote down, I can at least remember if it is on the left or right page of the notebook or pad and then try to find it that way. The jotter pad offers only vague locative information. That crucial scribble could be anywhere. Notebooks need a ‘search’ function.

Yes, exactly, the sense of environment and direction of a physical left-right page book or notebook is critically important. I can find content in my physical copy of CSS Pocket Reference at ten times the speed I can find it in the Kindle version, and not just because I wrote notes in every margin. There’s both physical and visual memory associated with one’s place in a physical book; the weight of the pages on one side or the other, the look of the way the pages curl, the depth perception of the edge, all contribute to remembering one’s place just as much as the content.

The fact that this happens in jotter pads should have given us a bit of a warning that it was also going to happen on tablets and smartphones. But, humans, meh, what can you do?

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