Cool Tech Alert: Evernote Smart Notebook by Moleskin

This hits all the right points: it’s techy and geeky and it involves a Moleskin. If you love to journal the old fashioned way, but want to keep track of your life digitally, this is your toy. The Evernote Smart Notebook is a paper notebook made by Moleskin, purveyors of some of the finest paper notebooks out there. After filling your page with scribbles, take a photo of it with Evernote’s new Page Camera feature, and the page is digitized and searchable. Use the included Page Stickers to give Evernote further clues about how you want the information treated within the app. These smart Stickers are essentially tagging tools – when  you capture a page with Evernote, the  Sticker icons become searchable, digital tags to help keep ideas organized and  digital and analog workspaces synced. Page Camera has automatic edge detection and image optimization to give you the best result.  The book contains specially formatted paper, designed specifically for use with Evernote. The paper lines are made up of dots for better image recovery within the app.

Using the Evernote app for iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch, you can customize what tags and notebooks you want to have automatically associated with your Smart Stickers when they are captured using the Page Camera feature.

 

Each Smart Sticker may have one notebook and up to six tags associated with it. You can see the image, make changes if necessary and then “accept” if you want to save into your Evernote account.

You can get a larger or small version, sized at 5 by 8.25″ or 3.5  by 5.5″ , 240 or 192 pages respectively, in traditional lined or graph paper styles. $24.95 and $29.95. The Page Camera feature currently works in iOS apps, but it is promised to be coming to Android.

If you don’t know what Evernote is, it is one of the best note taking and archiving applications out there, with web-based and local applications, as well as native mobile applications for most devices. There are applications that work with Evernote to make it cooler, like dictation services, and great OCR and audio tools so that you can really save and search most anything.

Check out the video below for an introduction. This is really so cool and a great bridge for people looking to get more digitally organized but not quite willing to give up pen and paper. As a bonus, each book comes with a free 3 month subscription to Evernote Premium. Nice!

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The First Thing We Do, Let's Kill All The Books

With all apologies to Shakespeare and Ray Bradbury, I am not talking Fahrenheit 451 here. I am talking the new Engineering Library, opening this August, at Stanford U, now with 85% fewer books! Apparently, the reduction is due in some measure to lack of interest – many volumes hadn’t been checked out in five years or more. To combat literary overcrowding, the new library will be lean and mean with 10,000 physical volumes representing the library’s most popular books, compared to the prior, more than 80,000 dusty tomes crowding the shelves. The materials will still be available in searchable, digitized form and brows-able from laptop or “other” mobile device.

Library administrators foresee a time when the library will hold no physical books at all. Engineering is a rapidly changing field. Thus, the material upon which engineers rely must change quickly. Sound familiar, lawyers? Faculty already embrace e-books, which are more responsive to these changes. And faculty and library staff can see how students’ interactions with material have changed dramatically, as new students rely more heavily on virtual information for  reading, research and composition.

Stanford is not alone in this. Quoting from the NPR Digital Life article (link here), where I found this story:

And while it’s still rare among American libraries to get rid of such a large amount of books, it’s clear that many are starting to lay the groundwork for a different future. According to a survey by the Association of Research Libraries, American libraries are spending more of their money on electronic resources and less on books.

Lawyers, law librarians, and legal publishers, take heed. The paper book, as a research or reference device, may well be on its way out and practitioners will welcome the ability to scan and search treatises online. It’s the wave of the future.

You can listen to the NPR story here:

NPR Digital Life

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Writing For The Web, Yahoo!-Style

Yahoo! is here to help you write for the Web with its very own Style Guide (link). Yahoo! and the Guide promise to help you “write and edit for a global audiences through best practices from Yahoo!” Quite a promise. Yahoo! cautions that it is different writing for Web than for print (all references to proper grammar, spelling and traditional style aside), and that Yahoo!”s version will power your style up for the digital age.

While the book itself costs (link here to pre-order from Amazon at discount from list price of $21.99), there are a few articles at the link at the top that can be had for free. The headings include “Write for the Web”, “Identify Your Audience”, “Define Your Voice”, “Construct Clear, Compelling Copy”, “Be Inclusive, Write for the World”, “Make Your Site Accessible to Everyone”, “Write Clear User-Interface Text” (which sounds like an oxymoron to me), and “Streamline Text for Mobile Devices.” There are best practices for editing online material, including punctuation, grammar, organization, and number styles. There is also a sample from the book’s “word list,” covering terms related to communications, technology, branding, and other topics that Yahoo!’s U.S. editors have encountered frequently. The site includes some outside resources (link here) on Basic Web Page coding, SEO, research tools, and a Web Editor’s tool box.

Last but not least, you an even submit a question to a Yahoo! editor (link here). Simply sign on with your Yahoo! user id and submit. Nice resource for refining your Web content.

A Collection of Government Comics – At Your Service

Not so much law, but still exceedingly cool from the curated information perspective , is this fabulous tip from two of my fav research resources, ResearchBuzz and ResourceShelf – a digital archive of comics created by the U.S. Government about government-related topics. Hit the jump here to browse the collection. Everything from Sprocket Girl, to Captain America Goes To War on Drugs, from Snoopy to Blondie and L’il Abner. Comics are shown gallery style, with attributing information, prompting hours of time-wasting fun. You can even download the entire comic as a PDF!

Go ahead – waste a few hours. It is a holiday week, after all.

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21st Century Legal Scholarship

ScholarI wanted to share with Studio readers an interesting article from David Kopel over at the Volokh Conspiracy on the issue of Legal Scholarship in the Digital Age. Kopel opines that legal blogging is creating a “Golden Age” in legal scholarship, permitting lawyers to wax academic and non-lawyers to access all of this brilliance in an easy-to-digest format. Kopel provides many good examples of how blogging is enhancing the legal profession, with particular emphasis on academia and reporting, and I definitely recommend you hit the jump if you wonder why you should consider blogging as an outlet for your intellect.

Once again, electronic media serves as the engine to drive innovation. Don’t let the train pass you by.

Building A Better Pencil

Printing press from 1811, photographed in Muni...
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Alerted this morning to a new book, A Better Pencil: Readers, Writers and the Digital Revolution by Professor Dennis Baron. Professor Baron appears to be providing the larger context to counter the argument that technology is destroying our ability to write.

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist, or even a professor, to grasp that every meaningful innovation affecting writing (and perhaps every innovation period) has been met with some degree of skepticism, scorn, disdain, fear or anxiety from some sector. Every technology adds to and subtracts from the prior experience, forcing us into a perpetual cost-benefit analysis when faced with the choice of tools to apply to the writing trade.

So, how does that cost benefit analysis play out in the current digital writing environment? How are our students, immersed in short form blogging and texting, faring in more demanding intellectual writing pursuits? Well, never fear (or fear less), as Professor Baron suggests that these students grow out of their “childish” writing styles to address their audience appropriately when the time comes to do so. Just like some children are born to be writers, while others are not, technology ultimately should not hamper or hinder their efforts to communicate.

Hat tip to Legal Writing Prof Blog.

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Digital Immigrants Will Make Way For Digital Natives …

… or traditional institutions will suffer the consequences. Yasar Tonta at Hacettepe University in Ankara, Turkey focuses his lense on libraries and stresses that they must “evolve or die” when it comes to digital technology and connectivity in his article Digital Natives and Virtual Libraries: What Does The Future Hold For Libraries?. Tonta initially explains the different styles exhibited by “digital natives” (those who were born and raised in a world surrounded by modern computing and technology) and “digital immigrants” (those who came to the digital realm from their previous analog existence). While recognizing that libraries must continue to cater to both groups, Tonta urges institutions to be mindful of the need to offer an experience catering to the digital native or risk “extinction.” Until such time as digital natives comprise 100% of the user base, librarians must run their show in both the real and virtual world.

To this end, Tanto suggests that libraries forge relationships with their patrons that represent a give-and-take: offering bi-directional service and information flow back and forth between institution and client. Tanto speaks in terms of “diffusing” and “concentrating” services. Diffusion entails building relationships between people, applications and data through services like blogs, wikis and social networking, while concentration involves pulling users into major hubs of information, such as Google and Amazon.

I found particularly compelling Tanto’s direction that libraries must move from being “resource-centric” towards becoming “relationship-centric”, emphasizing a more personalized service. Tanto also points out that technologies “converge” just as the facets of our lives converge – business, social, professional, personal. Thus, the library is tasked with effecting its own “convergence” by melding its own curated resources with the freely available resources of the Web and entering the on-line “hangouts” that digital natives inhabit. To survive, libraries must meet the more demanding needs of digital natives as they replace digital immigrants as clients.

Finally, more is required of institutions than merely becoming digital destinations. Libraries must actively seek to enter the actual networks of digital natives and meet them where they live. Tanto closes with this quote:

In libraries’ part, this requires “connectivity, communications, and content” (Social, 2009) so that library resources and services can be more visible and usable from within social networking systems. This seems to be the way forward for libraries if they are to tackle the impact of the convergence of technologies and the convergence of people’s social lives.

I daresay that the reader could insert the name of just about any institution for the word “library” in this article and the same conclusions still hold true. Consider the plight of law firms as they experience pain from this compulsion to effect major change and are forced to  learn how to deal with both clients and new hires firmly inhabiting the virtual space. Firms that cater to digital immigrants will soon be as obsolete as their client base. Firms catering to digital natives not only will learn how to speak the language, but also will understand how to walk the walk along the highways and byways of the on-line world, stopping to socialize at all the best hangouts.

Hat tip to Resource Shelf.

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