Friday, May 7, 2010

The Clipboard of Power

Free-form Friday

In my note about techniques this week I make a case for keeping something handy to record ideas as they pop up. I said that I like to use my "Clipboard of Power."

After drafting that note I realized that the rising, digitally-augmented generation will likely never see the full power of a clipboard. Why? Because personal digital devices are becoming ubiquitous.

There was a time when carrying a clipboard in public place suggested you were acting in an official capacity--all the more so if you consulted the clipboard regularly and periodically made annotations. On a number of occasions (some purposeful and some not), I've been approached, while in public with my clipboard of power, by people who needed directions or assistance and assumed that I must know something about the store or museum.

But if you try something similar now, you'll most likely be ignored. If you use a clipboard, the anachronism gives you away because everyone knows that anyone official will use an electronic device. And if you try it with a digital device, you'll be ignored because everyone has their their own devices. To paraphrase Syndrome, now that everyone has personal data capture devices, no one is special.

Don't mistake me: this isn't a paean to the good-old-days. It's simply that sometimes you notice that, over time, things do change.

Image: Photography by BJWOK /

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