I read with great interest the recent article about the Livescribe pen. This is truly an innovative device; I doubt people could have anticipated it before its debut. Nevertheless, I see this as a transitional gadget. I anticipate that very shortly, practically at any moment, it will become trivially easy to discreetly record a full-length video of a class lecture or a business meeting and sync it with notes. Having video in addition to audio will, of course, not only make it much easier to follow what the instructor is writing on the blackboard or the client in a meeting, but will also help interpret subtleties in gestures, facial expressions, and statements. While I think this is in principle a good thing, we have to reflect soon on how seemingly trivial note-taking recordings will change the character of our classrooms and boardrooms. Perhaps people will be a little more reticent to put forth ideas when they know that everything they say is being filmed by a number of people. Perhaps this will be the impetus to change the culture of sharing that we see so much of now on the Internet when people realize that everything they say is being recorded in an almost Orwellian fashion.
Unpublished letter in response to:
The Pen That Never Forgets
By CLIVE THOMPSON
Published: September 16, 2010