I’ve always been looking for the perfect way to report on the road — do you write shorthand notes, do you record it all and transcribe it later, do you use digital writing tools like Logitech’s io Pen? Or a combination? Each one I’ve done has fallen down, usually because I get bored transcribing or deciphering my notes. The result is a lot of stuff gets lost along the way.
At a recent conference I ran into a guy who seems to have the answer: Don Sambandaraksa, technology writer for The Bangkok Post, who manages to touch type so fast on a Think Outside Bluetooth keyboard that his fingers are a blur.
For a big guy it’s impressive display (I’ve got some video I’ll try to upload at some point). He is able to ask questions and keep eye contact with the interviewee (admittedly, with a faraway gaze in his eyes, but that may well be his normal look) the whole time, and when I snuck a peek at what he was typing, it looked good. I tested him out afterwards, and it seems he can do it on most subjects, including obscure Javanese kings.
He then dumps it all in his computer and is able to file quickly back to head office. (He also takes photos and all sorts of stuff on the spot. He’s a citizen journalist in a whirlwind.)
I was sufficiently ashamed to try it out myself. I wish I’d brought a Nokia N800 with me, which would have worked better than the measly notes application on the N95. But I didn’t do too badly — though by no means as fast as The Don. I asked him whether it meant he couldn’t focus so much on what was being said, and ask the right questions, but he said no, he’d been typing since the age of 5 (!) so it was no biggie. And, if his questions were anything to go by, he’s probably right.