Thursday, March 19, 2009
Having spent a year or three experimenting with digitally capturing stuff that would ordinarily be handwritten (on Newtons, via Graffiti on various Garnet OS devices, on various Windows Tablet PCs, etc.), I've always come back to the conclusion that paper and writing implements have been around for millennia because they just work. Digital devices (for capture, as opposed to retention and access) still don't really have it over paper, in my book (so to speak).
I mentioned recently that I'd come across an interesting organizer system from Germany called an "X47". I managed to suffer through the web site's German-only, excruciatingly slow back-end and ordered some stuff from them, which finally arrived this last Monday. In short, it's fabulous stuff.
I got an A6-sized leather notebook, and a number of different inserts. What's unique about this system is that, rather than using a ring binding, this uses a system where the binder has three pairs of pins, one of which is spring-loaded:
The inserts, which come in a variety of styles, have a metal tube stapled into the spine, which fits into the pins:
This arrangement has several happy side-effects: the amount of available writing space is increased to the full page, since there aren't rings and holes taking up space, the width of the spine is reduced to a minimum, and you can use the page opposite your writing hand without having rings in the way. The variety of insert types encourages you to design your own organizer: I've got a one-day-per-page insert for my calendar, a "databank" insert (12 tabbed 6-page sections, good for collecting project-related "next steps"), and a lined insert (which I use for my "Autofocus" list).
Apparently, it's possible to buy this stuff retail in Amsterdam, so I'll be checking that out toward the end of next month while I'm there for a meeting sponsored by FSF-Europe. It's not cheap, but it's really well-made and the design is incredible. The same company makes a more inexpensive line, the X17, which uses rubber bands looped over the spine rather than the pin-and-tube arrangement of the X47.
The system comes in three sizes, A5 (too big), A7 (too small) and A6 (just right!) The A6 binder I got fits quite nicely in the back pocket of a pair of Levi's and has two ribbon markers as well as a number of business-card-sized pockets.
Every once in a while, you come across something that's just perfectly conceived and executed. This product gets my vote.