Today we looked at how to improve human-kind’s greatest thinking tool — the notebook. Say hello to the JamBook.
After making a quick run to the art store to look at the current state of notebooks and paper (and buy some supplies), we spent the rest of the morning looking over all kinds of ways to improve the notebook. Here’s the hitlist of issues we settled on:
• Page size should be small enough to carry in your pocket: Somewhere between credit card and business card sized; even put it in your wallet.
• Similar ideas should be groupable: Put together common themes and thoughts when possible.
• Workflow should be non-linear: allow for distracting or tangential thoughts to be jotted down so you can get back to focusing on your real work.
• Pages should be placable in the physical workspace: It’s nice to see lots of pages at once.
• Projects should come together as a sharable book: When your masterpiece is complete, make it easy to package and label the book for archiving and sharing.
• Pages should be easy to digitize: Pick a standard format that can be quickly scanned to share online.
So we tried a ton of different configurations to experiment and explore the possibilites. Should the pages fold? Should they exist in groups or signatures? How could pages be easily removed and reorganized? What could we learn from traditional book binding? What shapes and sizes are easy to scan?
The size of business cards seemed like a solid foundation — they easily fit in your wallet and are extremely common and inexpensive. They’re also easy to customize with most printing services (in case grids, dots, lines, etc. are your thing). You should also realize that a business card is surprisingly big. In fact, it was larger than the screen on my iPhone; maybe you’ll need a small pen, but it’s enough room to put down almost any coherent thought (not to mention that you’re welcome to use multiple cards whenever you want).
Of course, all of JamBook’s pages can be easily taken out and regrouped or shuffled. When each page is a light-weight card, it changes how you use the notebook, and we think that is a great thing!
We also looked at creating larger pages by folding a sheet such that it was a multiple of the standard size of a business card, but this added complexity when thinking about how to bind, scan, and print.
Bookbinding is near and dear to the Chaos Collective. We love quality materials and well-crafted objects. With a 2x fold, pages can be more securely bound in the final booklet as a signature, which is awesome. However, in the end we decided against the thread/sewn approach due to the time and patience needed to do it well. A simple tape binding (with some very tacky tape!) worked much better than we imagined and we settled on that as the most straight-forward and simple way to wrap up a group of thoughts.
So that’s what we did today. Yes, it’s surprisingly simple, but we actually think it’s a useful way to reframe the everyday notebook. :)
It’s not just paper, it’s a JamBook.