A new/different way to collaborate at conferences

Future Everything notes on my kindle

Been thinking for a while about the way I take notes…

I tend to write down short lines of text which tend to make sense to myself only, but I’ve been thinking for a while do I really need my laptop to take notes? Specially since my main laptop battery fails after about 5mins of use (my own fault for buying it cheap on ebay I guess) and my backup battery lasts 20mins maximum.

Here’s my options I’ve been thinking…

  • Use my laptop, bite the bullet and buy yet another laptop, then use Evernote or Tomboynotes
  • Leave my laptop at home, rely on my Android phone. Maybe even buy a spare battery, so I can run it at full power (wifi, bluetooth, etc) all day
  • Leave my laptop at home, rely on my Android phone and work out how to use my bluetooth keyboard with Android. Still need to think about battery however
  • Use my Kindle, which has pretty much endless battery battery and a physical keyboard

Of course I used my Kindle

Kindle powered

The thought was Amazon added a feature which allows you to add notes to a ebook and share it with other people using the Kindle or Kindle reader. The notes are accessible on the web but theres a problem. The problem is Amazon notes only really work as expected with documents on the Kindle store. This means although I am able to add notes to a PDF of the Future Everything conference. First its a bit crap because its a PDF and secondarily I can’t share the notes publicly very easily (its worth noting Calibre does allow you to pull the notes off the Kindle).

Generally the keyboard on the Kindle is ok, nothing compared to my bluetooth keyboard but slightly better that the onscreen keyboard on my phone. The symbols option is a pain but because I’m writing rough notes, it doesn’t matter so much.

Future Everything notes on my kindle

I also had a little bit of a panic when it seemed like most of my notes had gone. But it seems to be a way the Kindle shows the notes. In the end I was able to bring them all back (well they hadn’t actually gone anywhere). I was writing one set of notes per speaker but you can do more, making it possible to tweet/share the notes too which I might do more of next time.

In the picture above you can just about see the little numbers which are the different notes. The Kindle software assigns a number but it might do something different

So where from now…?

Well the Thinking Digital Conference is in less that two weeks, so I’m gearing up for doing the same with this wonderful conference but…

  1. I’m going to get the conference schedule in a non-PDF format from Herb Kim
  2. I’m going to try and get the schedule posted on Amazon’s Kindle Store, so when I share the notes. The actual document will be partly available instead of the usual message about it being a personal document.

If this works well, I’ll try collaborate editing with someone else in future but also if this does actually work, it will be a really nice way to collaboratively edit notes at a conference and I can certainly see it taking off in the future. Specially if as I suspect you can annotate and collaborate on notes on many different platforms and devices together.

I’m surprised no one else has thought about doing the same really, or maybe its just not possible?

Author: Ianforrester

Senior firestarter at BBC R&D, emergent technology expert and serial social geek event organiser.