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 photo-taking photo 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: