Monday, September 12, 2005

Your analog blog

Headline in the October 05 issue of MIT's Technology Review: Robert Noyce dreamed up the microchip in a 1959 notebook entry.

You don't need me to tell you the microchip and Robert Noyce have changed humanity forever.

I just wanted to point out the notebook thing. Mission critical to your own process of development, friend. Note the notebook portion of that headline.

You need to learn to use notebooks if your enterprise is to flourish. There is no memory bank good enough for what you're going to face.

Much of what you include in your notebook won't ever be necessary again. Some of it will save your ass someday. Some might even lead to a microchip moment for you.

I think of my notebooks as analog blogs with me as the only reader. I can go back years (OK I admit it, decades) to see what I was working on at that moment. What questions I had, how I dealt with the problems involved, etc. No matter, I've got them.

Of course you should put Mr. Noyce's legacy to work and digitize the daylights out of your data, then back it up 16 ways to Sunday. There are 9 zillion new communications and storage devices emerging, a lot of which looks pretty helpful... Blackberry types, heavily tricked out cell phones and all the rest. That stuff will make its contribution where appropriate. But they also break. They can be expensive to maintain and repair, and their ability to operate is subject to forces outside your control.

It's hard to break a notebook. Your notebooks will serve as your free, always at your side, real time brain dump and hard copy backup. Put it all down. Capture the data, the ideas, the possibilities, the contacts, the phone numbers, the eMail addresses, and most importantly, the questions. All the stuff that may serve you later. Your notebooks give you and your own electrical synapses the chance to dance with, and connect the dots in ways microchips will never be inspired enough to accomplish.

That's your edge. You. And all the solutions, suggestions and whimsy you bring to the party. Capture the drive-by data that appears daily. Notebooks need not be anything fancy. The idea is to keep your efforts written down, noted and reviewable. Transfer some to digital as needed, but the rest can be easily stored, and forever available.

I have friends who are inventors, artists, entrepreneurs and enterprise stars. If you ask in a nice way, you'd find all the best ones keep a notebook nearby. Virtually all of them save them and keep them dear.

This is not a suggestion. I believe notebooks are a requirement. Learn to continuously post the daily details that need capturing. If you don't, those details will most likely not be there to serve you and the rest of us when needed.

This is not Luddite stuff. I want you in full control of your story on the internet yesterday. That's non negotiable.

However, do you need the hottest coolest biz widgets? Do you need the hippest stuff from out there at the bleeding edge? Not likely for most start ups and early stage enterprises.

I do know that the microchip changed the world. It has become a previously unimagined and powerful building block of human society.

I also know the microchip started it's life as a little analog post in a notebook.

Leslie Berlin's book The Man Behind the Microchip: Robert Noyce and the Invention of Silicon Valley

MIT's Technology Review


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