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Boston Globe: PDA buffs go back to basics

Custom Moleskine PlannerThis Sunday, the Rohdesign Weblog was featured in the business section of the Boston Globe, in the story PDA buffs go back to basics. The Globe piece discusses back to paper movement Douglas Johnston wrote about in 2005.

Last week I was able to talk at length with Kim-Mai Cutler about my Custom Moleskine Hack, using a Palm, the Palm Tipsheet, the analog movement, and more. It seems I've made the first several paragraphs of the piece:

Web designer Mike Rohde was a certifiable Palm fanatic. He had the original PalmPilot 1000, then a Sony Clié, then a Tungsten E, and several more all the way up to the Zire 72. His monthly newsletter vetting the newest models went out to 10,000 subscribers. But when his PDA turned up missing two months ago, Rohde's quick fix wasn't the latest Treo.

He picked up a notebook and drew a calendar.

"The Palm started to become a creature. It demanded things from me. It demanded me to recharge it every couple days or I'd have to make back ups," he said. "I wanted to see what it would be like if I went to paper."

That sums up my thoughts pretty well. It's compressed from what Kim and I discussed over the phone, as reporters are very limited in the space they have. However, it's quite nice to be featured in the opening with that much copy.

The story also features analog fans Chad Adams of PocketMod, Armand Frasco of Moleskinerie, Merlin Mann of 43 Folders, Douglas Johnston of DIYPlanner. I'm honored to be in such great company.

The only unfortunate detail was the lack of link to my weblog , which I'm working on having added. We'll see how many readers Google and find me from the article.

I'd like to mention for the record that I'm not anti-technology. I use technology every day as a designer with MakaluMedia, who works remotely with international colleagues and clients and I see its value and power.

Neither am I anti-Palm or anti-PDA. I've used a Palm handheld for almost 10 years, and believe these devices are excellent tools. However, In my own life I've found paper made more sense for my personal schedule (work stuff is handled on the Mac).

I hope article challenges readers to consider their tools, whether digital or analog. For me it's less about which tool you choose and much more about making sure that tool suits your needs.

Update 2006-06-26: Thanks to reader Ryan Wolf of Variance Art, who nabbed a copy of the Globe for me!

I've also learned from reader Maureen, that the article appeared on the front page of the Boston Globe (bottom center) of at least some editions... how cool is that?! Here's a black and white scan:


Update 2006-07-01: Looks like the article remained in 5th position on the Globe's Most Emailed Articles with 479 emailings one week after it was featured on


Reader Comments (5)

That's awesome Mike! Man, I'm gonna have to start looking at the whole "paper" thing. ;-) Congrats
June 25, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterJordan Arentsen
Mike,Glad to see that you are getting recognition for your efforts and promoting the "paper-based" approach which as you very accurately state is not an 'anti technology' stance.

June 26, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterCharlesOS
Thanks Charles, I'm most pleased that some people in the Boston area might consider using some kind of tool that works best for their needs through this article.
June 26, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterMike Rohde
Very nice! Congratulations!
June 26, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterVladimir Campos
Thanks for the thoughts pritchett4, you have good points about the Palm and PDAs in general � backup and sync are two of the strongest.

However, for what I'm doing now, all of those benefits just weren't as compelling as a Moleskine hacked to be my calendar. I used to use my Palms as you do, but having realized the Palm was way under-utilized, the simpler approach just fit better now.

That doesn't mean I think PDAs are bad, just that right now they aren't as compelling for me anymore. Maybe that would change in the future, but right now paper works best. :-)
July 1, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterMike Rohde

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