The Thinker’s Notebook could take collaboration to the next level

The Thinker's Notebook next to a smartphone.

Unless you have been quarantining your entire life, you probably realize working in teams and collaborating on projects drives business ideas forward. I have the privilege of working on several teams in my current job, and outside of meetings, we can sometimes struggle to keep our ideas condensed and centrally located. This happens particularly when we brainstorm or separately attend all-hands meetings, training events, or conventions where multiple classes occur at similar times. We all take notes and try to recall the highlights, but a lot of the “meat” tends to get lost in the fray, and key ideas that could drive business forward are overlooked. 

The Thinker’s Notebook seeks to overcome this obstacle with a tool they hope will help groups “digitize, organize, and share” with peers more readily. 

The Physical 

The quality is what makes the Thinker’s Notebook really stand out. The cover is made from recycled leather. It looks sleek and makes a statement that creative thoughts dwell within. The paper is premium grade, and while I’ve never used a notebook with dots as opposed to lines, I learned to like it. The dots allow for more creative thinking, doodling, graphing, and brainstorming. It is a cool feature that I’ve never truly considered before. Each page has a box for a header should you choose to use one to organize your thoughts and ideas. 

While this is most definitely a high-quality notebook, I am curious how it will hold up over time. I would consider reducing its thickness to avoid the nuisance of having to hold it open to write in it throughout the first set of pages. It tends to close due to the tight binding. After multiple uses, I observed it flattening out a bit now that there is a crease in the spine. 

The Digital

I tested the Thinker’s Notebook app using an Android (Galaxy Note 9) and ultimately found disappointment. I explored the company website trying for the life of me to find more details on how to use the application beyond merely taking a picture of my notes, tagging, and sharing. In reality, the application on Android is not much different than what you can find on a lot of free scanning apps in the Google Play Store. In fact, I use one of those scanning apps more frequently than I can see myself using the Thinkers app in its current state. 

The website boasts the app can recognize your handwriting for searching and transcribing. It also claims it can record audio, video, and whiteboards. I could not get this to work or find anything remotely close to these options using the Android app.

I read about a paid version of the app within the help pages, but I couldn’t find this in the store either. Perhaps the IOS version is more refined and robust. After a bit of additional research, this appears to be the case. If you are an Android user, you may want to wait on this until it is updated (if they update it). According to the website, iPhone users will enjoy a lot more features from the app, including handwriting recognition, audio/video note-taking, and even whiteboards to collaborate with (these features are not in free scanning apps). I hope they put more work into the Android version soon. I could see this being useful. For now, I will have to settle for a really nice notebook with minimal reason to use the app. 

The Reality

The Thinker’s Notebook is for those who like to write down ideas to remember them. It is for those not quite ready to dive into a fully digital age but still like the idea of tech playing a role in their daily lives. My best ideas still come from jotting down thoughts using pen and paper, so I sincerely appreciate the high quality of the notebook itself. However, beyond the beauty of this tightly bound beauty, I personally can’t justify spending the thirty bucks it requires while knowing I can use free apps to do darn close to the same thing with any notebook I choose using an Android phone. Additional innovation and development are needed here to make the purchase worth the while in the future. If you are an iPhone loyalist, this may just change part of how you collaborate going forward.