Idea: Filofax scanner

I keep some of my notes in electronic form, and some on paper. This is a pain. I’d prefer to have everything electronic, but there are three situations where paper wins out:

  • When I’m on a phone call, at least without a headset. I need one hand to hold the phone, and writing is much more effective than typing single-handed!
  • When I’m in a meeting, if it’s a small group or a one-on-one chat. I think it’s most uncivilised to be typing and looking at a screen while someone’s talking to you.
  • When I want to draw anything. Keyboards are good for text. Mice are awful for sketching.

So I think I’m going to be using my Moleskine notebook for a while, but I’d love to be able to keep an archive of it on my laptop, even if only as a sequence of images. However, I really don’t want to have to scan one page at a time.

Anoto pen
I could use an Anoto digital pen, but I’d be bound to lose the pen, and anyway it doesn’t work with a Mac. It does now work with a Blackberry but only via a paid subscription service. Not for me.

“Aha!”, I thought recently, “I could go back to my old Filofax.” It’s loose-leaf and so I could take the pages out every couple of weeks and put them through the sheet feeder on my scanner. But it turns out that they’re too small, and the feeder doesn’t really like them.

Surely there’s a market here? There’s no shortage of Filoxfaxes and similar ‘personal organiser’ systems in the world. Does anybody make a scanner that can cope with them? Or, come to that, with index cards? That would be invaluable for many academics, as well as for devotees of the Hipster PDA.

If nobody else makes one, watch this space, and I’ll let you know when mine goes into production…. :-)


I was pondering this very issue a while back. I currently keep a paper log bok at work with stuff, but invariably I’m a bit lax about it, partly because searching it is a pain, and dumping snippets of work, which is mostly electronic, is a pain too. I figured I wanted a sort of searchable blog or wiki to replace my log book. Most snippets I could type entries, cut and paste, attach files to entries, etc., but then the thing I’d lose is the ability to sketch diagrams, which is where paper excels itself.

I’ve not had time to try and move things over to digital (real work tends to get in the way), but I going to try requesting a graphics tablet at work and set up some blogging software on my laptop and see if I take to using that.

It’ll work on your Mac now!

Any document scanner like the Fujitsu ScanSnap is capable of taking a stack of index cards or Filofax pages and scanning them in.

Hi Fazal –

Yes, I ended up buying a ScanSnap, and it’s a wonderful device. Expensive, as scanners go, but worth it.

More info here.

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