Using notebooks to take notes

Mark Gurman wrote a great piece on Apple’s Chief Operating Officer, Jeff Williams.

Williams also has often relied in meetings on a pocket-size notebook, and colleagues say they make sure to follow up on any part of the conversation they see him write down.

This tidbit is fascinating to me. How come Williams uses a paper notebook? This is the Chief Operating Officer at Apple, a company whose iPhone is, frankly, the most ubiquitous pocket-size notebook around.

Admittedly, I, too, prefer a paper notebook to write down thoughts, even though I really want to just use my phone for notes. Phones make more sense. It’s always with me, my writing is in the cloud and not stuck in one spot, and software makes note taking more organized. There’s no readily apparent downside. Yet I still carry a notebook and pen with me where ever I go.

I find Williams’s habit much more interesting when transposed against Scott Forstall’s note taking habits (paywall):

Forstall takes detailed notes without pen, paper, or laptop. “He listens to you and he starts typing on his iPhone,” says Matt Murphy, a partner at Kleiner Perkins and the manager of a fund at the firm that invests in iOS developers. “You’re thinking he’s not listening and sending a text message, then you realize he’s taking notes.”

Perhaps that’s part of why I eschew using my phone to take notes. I feel people think, actively or subconsciously, I’m ignoring them. Their immediate perception is a bias I have to overcome. When I take notes using a notebook, people seem to immediately think I’m actively listening to them, taking notes

There’s also the pleasant, tactile, and near instantaneous feel of using a notebook. You pull it out of your pocket and start scribbling away. For some reason, taking notes on a phone feels less accessible in comparison. Truly, I don’t believe this feeling is quantifiably objective. It might be easier and more efficient to use my phone. But yet, given the choice, I nearly always opt to use a paper notebook.

Based on my personal interactions, it seems Forstall’s phone preference is the minority. Here’s hoping using phones to take notes eventually becomes more prevalent and socially acceptable. I’ll do my part to keep using Cultured Code’s fantastic Things 3 more often as part of my workflow. Maybe I’ll preface pulling out my phone with a “Let me write this down.”

Microsoft’s Teams overtakes Slack

Microsoft states 13 million people use its Teams group-chat platform daily compared to Slack’s 10 million figure. This milestone seems particularly impressive in light of 2016 Microsoft pondering whether to acquire Slack for $8 billion dollars.

In an industry full of constant acquisitions, it’s nice to see a company create its own software, even one as immensely resourced as Microsoft. Microsoft launched its own software that, two years after its 2017 launch, ended up with more users than their considered acquisition.

That fact seems impressive at first glance. Keep in mind, however, Teams is included with its Office 365 subscription. Many organizations already have an Office 365 subscription. That arrangement would cause any Office 365 subscribing organization to question paying for Slack when it already pays for Teams. Knowing this pricing scheme, Teams overtaking Slack was basically inevitable.

Certainly, no matter the pricing, people won’t use bad software if a significantly better alternative exists. But sometimes good enough is good enough, especially when it’s at no extra cost. Therefore, I don’t believe Microsoft’s announcement necessarily speaks to Teams being a better or more liked platform than Slack. Instead, this news demonstrates Teams is at least cost effective and good enough. Frankly, neither Slack nor Teams is enjoyable to use. In my experience, both platforms are merely good enough and get the job done.

Notably, if we had statistics of Google G Suite users opting for Teams instead of Slack, we would have a better data point for which communication platform organizations prefer. Here, there’s no platform subscription synergy and thus, fiscal decisions become less of a factor.

At the end of the day, this news is still good news for Microsoft. Hats off to them. I look forward to the developing competition between all communication platforms.

Sign in with Apple

Apple introduced Sign in with Apple, which is its own single sign-on method. It allows users to use a universal login ID across different applications and websites. This approach is very much indicative of today’s Apple using its massive market presence to positively influence privacy culture.

Creating an account for each individual app and website can be painful. Accounts create friction and get in the way of people immediately using the product. Accounts are, however, necessary. How else would you access your personalized social media, purchase products, or access your online finances?

People will generally take the path of least resistance. Developers want to reduce friction. Thus, single sign-on became popular. As noted in my examples above, if a company can tie social media, purchase information, financial information, and other personalized data together, that’s very desirable to advertisers. Advertisers continue to amass as much data as they can.

Thankfully, with Sign In with Apple, Apple is using its unique, market leading position to push back. Sign In with Apple allows clear choice of what information you choose to share with the app or website. It also prevents cross app or website tracking with anonymized email addresses, should you so choose.

What I find fascinating is Apple requiring its Sign In to be included for apps that support other third-party sign-in options. That requirement demonstrates Apple’s willingness to throw its weight around for privacy protections. Some may deem it as overreaching but frankly, amassing as much of my data as possible is overreaching.

I imagine advertisers are unhappy with Apple’s decision. Frankly, though, I am thrilled a market leader is pushing back against the insatiable data beast. Here’s hoping Apple’s approach empowers users to care about data privacy.