Vintage Hypocrite

Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed.
James 5:16a

Well… I feel dirty just saying it… I took my laptop to class today.

Despite my outspoken advocacy of Vintage Notes, I broke down and took the mac to campus. Now, before you break out the stones and begin tossing them at me, allow me to give my reasoning:

  1. Access to the Greek and Hebrew – I’m currently taking a class on the book of Hebrews and the professor often encourages us to look at the Greek… I haven’t taken Greek yet, so looking at it does nothing for me. However, having the computer there allows me to pull of the original language and look at it and better understand what is going on… well, a little bit at least.
  2. I’m a tree hugging hippie – Well, not really… but two of my professors offer their lecture outlines online and I hate wasting the paper to take them to class to write notes on them… especially when I plan on taking them home and entering them into the computer. It just doesn’t make sense.

Now, let me make a couple observations as one who was a pure Vintage Note taker until today.

  1. Temptation – I never knew how INCREDIBLY tempting it was to get online, check email, set system preferences, organize my folders, download notes for other classes, set new wallpaper image, etc, while in class. It drive me crazy when I see people doing it, and yet, today I had to concentrate not to do it. It was a challenge to say the least! I think I did a good job for the most part, but I don’t know… it is HARD to not do anything but take notes and use my bible software.
  2. Repentance – Paper is better! Seriously, I really do think it is better. I found myself getting a bit lazy when I had the professors notes sitting right in front of me… essentially all the important stuff was already there. So, I just sat and listened (trying not to go online). Conversely, when all I have is my notepad in front of me I am forced to think about what is said and what I need to remember. Also, I really do like being able to write all over the page and draw lines, arrows, circles, and other visual clues to my notes… but that might just be me.

Conclusion – I’ll probably continue to take my computer and use it as a support tool, however, I intend to keep Vintage Notes as my primary approach to note taking.

Whew… I feel better now that I’ve got that off my chest.

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Written by
Ryan Burns
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  • You are a tree hugging hippie. Just accept it (ok, maybe not “hugging” but “conscientious stewarding” hippie, however the latter doesn’t sound cool at all).

  • I had a class where the professor had his outlines online. I saw four different responses. Most people took almost no notes. I took notes on my laptop to class and took notes normally… without the outline in front of me. The guy next to me had his laptop also, but he took notes in the same document as the professor’s notes using a different color.

    But the approach that I think worked the best (and I didn’t notice until a couple weeks before the end of the semester) is to print the outline, bring them to class, and make notes in the margin. That way you get the best of both worlds.

  • I need my laptop in class. In college, I was always vintage notes style, but as the classes got harder, the professors talked faster, and there was more information to record, my handwriting got messier and messier and I actually found myself once having to borrow someone else’s notes because I couldn’t read my own.

    I do face the temptation that comes with wi-fi in the classrooms, but I usually try to focus that temptation on the topic that’s being discussed, such as wiki-ing a bio of the theologian being discussed. Still, I’d rather deal with that temptation than unreadable and incomplete notes. I type at least three times faster than I write, so the choice is hands down for me.

  • I became a pro at the motorcycle game last year at seminary. I had to quit getting on the internet and pay attention in class. It helped and i no longer play the motorcycle game.

  • I keep the lappy around for certain things, but most of the time I take notes in a notebook or on print-outs of the power point.

  • I like taking notes for some classes on my laptop, while most of them I prefer to do so on lined paper [we ran across an old stack of wide-ruled paper (as we used in elementary school!) in the grandparents closet, so every time we whip out a sheet of that my wife and I get a chuckle].

    One good trick when using my laptop is to turn on WiFi in class when I don’t need access to the web. As a TA in theology, each time I sub for the prof I’m sure to mention to the class that I too am a student and thus know the temptation to check email and surf the web in class, but stick with me people!

    Our journey in godliness takes (intentional) self-discipline (a fruit of the Spirit, Galatians 5:22ff).

  • Ideally, you take pen-and-paper notes in class, and then transcribe your notes onto the computer later. It helps reinforce it in your mind, and it’s not distracting to anyone (including yourself).

Written by Ryan Burns