Jim’s Answer To The Moleskine
My friend Jim was passing through town the other day, and we compared Moleskines. Or rather, I brought out my immaculate Moleskine and he brought out a black pile of something or other. I asked him to tell me about it in response to a comment from someone about the benefits of the Moleskine pocket on an earlier post. Jim posted his comments here but I reproduce them here in full, along with pictures:
To add to the great debate, Moleskin versus Miquelrius.
My qualifications, in brief, included 14 years in journalism, consulting, peacekeeping and roaming the world for other NGOs and international organizations. As a shorthand writer as well as one time foreign correspondent and official diplomatic notetaker, I think the old fashioned paper notebook is more reliable, in the long run, and less intimidating. It can transition gracefully from presidential palace to remote village. It doesn’t get crushed, run out of batteries or attract attention. Wrap it in a Zip Loc bag and its waterproof.
While I like the Moleskine’s “high end” features such as the strap, pagemarker and back pocket useful, it has drawbacks. The Moleksin has less volume, therefore I use one every three months as compared to a Miquelrius every eight months, even with extensive notetaking. This means the Moleskin is less useful as a portable archive.
Size does matter, but the Miqquelrius is still small enough to fit in a trouser pocket.
The Moleskine is also more expensive, so using them more frequently adds to the cost.
It is narrower more difficult to do good shorthand. The width also limits your ability to sketch and draw, everything from organigrams to the scenery.
My solution? Improvise with the Miquelrius to get something just right. Add a small envelope to the back. I use left over wedding RSVP envelopes:
I generally use two green elastic bands for section dividers. I picked those up wrapped around my vegetables from Trader Joes. The elastic bands the postman leaves behind also work:
Pages can also be marked with Post-It Flags, paper clips and regular Post-It Notes folded back into the page you last used. My pictured notebook has been around the world a few times, including to a few remote African and Indonesian villages. It looks a bit tattered by the time you get it back to Washington, but I reckon there is nothing better for your “street cred” as a guy who knows what’s going on in the field than walking into a meeting with a weathered notebook.