What Is Digital Inking?
Digital Inking isn't new. I remember in the mid 90's messing with an Apple Newton that had a stylus and a program called Calligrapher that introduced hand writing recognition. Later when Personal Device Assistant popularity rose, I carried everything from a Palm Pilot to HP's iPaq with Windows CE. All of these devices incorporated a stylus with some form of interaction, but was lacking in quality. Today, I carry a Surface Pro 4 and I wouldn't change much of my experience that I receive. The digitizer in the Surface Pen is pretty amazing. The result is an experience that feels like true pen on paper in terms of accuracy, sensitivity with zero latency. A normal touch-screen tablet only allows for 'finger painting' type inking. I hadn't always used or considered using digital inking on a primary device.
My Past Device Experiences
For years I have been a mac geek. I have had every iPhone, just about every iPad, and until recently sported a Macbook Pro since the Powerbook G3 black days. I remember when imaging a Mac was as easy as dragging the hard drive over to another hard drive and copying it over. I have had the luxury (or not) of working on every OS X version released. So it might surprise you that a mac doesn't sit on my desk anymore. I would have to say it began with empathy. When we decided to deploy a Surface Pro 3 to every secondary teacher, I thought it was good practice to experience the device myself. The first two years of my journey here with Omaha Public Schools has been with a Surface and a Macbook Pro. This year I have chosen to go solo with the Surface Pro 4. Most of my reasons are because of productivity. One reason in particular, I was finding myself touching my Macbook screen gesturing window resizing, much like I do on my Surface and iPhone. After my migration from Evernote to OneNote, digital inking has become a non-negotiable. I have always been one to draw my ideas and plans on a whiteboard. Below is a picture of my previous office in Andover, I was surrounded by whiteboarded walls.
My office in Omaha doesn't have this much white space, but the team uses OneNote as a staple for our progress. It acts as a repository for many different types of files and has unique organizational features to keep data on hand and easily retrieved. Whether inserting a PDF printout, a Sway, or checklist, it really has flexibility of file-types covered. The real power comes when you introduce digital inking. When you expand input by enabling the ability to annotate images, maps and graphs and to write symbols, take notes and draw straight onto your device, you gain context to content.
The Future Of Input
Today we ask Siri where the closest Starbucks is, or ask Alexa to set a timer for our meal in the oven. With the introduction of wearables, the Internet of Things, and personal assistants, we are blurring the lines of the traditional inputs of the past. The need to learn how to place your fingers on home row has really disappeared. What is next? As I see it now, the introduction of Artificial Intelligence and the increase of connected devices will see the rise of augmented reality. All of our inputs will be interfaced, not just typing, or gestures, or speaking. In the same way memorization has less meaning, and we place more meaning in the ability to filter and think critically about the influx of information at our hands, we need to evolve in our ability to understand input change as well.
Here are some examples of my sketchnotes