The iPad is a new kind of device. While computers have been "personal" since the 1970s, the iPad is perhaps the first "private" computer - maybe even the first "intimate" computer. Smartphones and devices like the iPod Touch are also personal, but their small screens, always-on networking and portability make them more about connections and quick bursts of activity. While smartphones encourage quick hits, the iPad encourages longer-form, even contemplative activities. It is one of the first computer devices that encourages users to slow down rather than speed up. Regular computers require leaning forward. People watch TV while leaning back. The iPad encourages you to lean back - but to bring the device with you.

My Journals (but not my glasses!)

So when the iPad was announced, I immediately thought that it would be a great device for a diary. I've kept a personal journal since late 2003, and have built up a nice bookshelf of handsome hardcover volumes filled with my messy handwriting. Now, along with all of my music and pictures and books, the iPad can hold all of my diaries - I can access my own past without having to carry around a lot of heavy books.

But the iPad has another edge on physical, handwritten books: it's connected to the internet. 

One of my biggest problems with keeping a written diary was that my life would often get very busy and I wouldn't have time to write, or I'd go on a trip and forget my diary at home. Then I would have days or even weeks of empty pages to fill in. Sometimes I have trouble remembering exactly what happened this morning, so trying to recall what I did last Tuesday can be extremely difficult. Missing days in a diary often feels like those days are missing out of my life.

At the same time, more and more of my life happens on-line - not just my work, but my social world and my public-facing thoughts through my various blogs and Twitter and Facebook  These services reflect different aspects of one's life, but they tend to focus on the present moment, as a flow of data in the continuously-moving Now - as anyone can tell who has tried to dig up a tweet from more than a few days ago.

Remembary takes these flowing streams and permanently freezes them into specific days, easy to access and review, and tied to each other and to diary entries. In the top right corner of every day's entry are two little buttons that, when tapped, bring up Twitter and RSS activity for that day - quick jogs to memory to help fill in the day and keep it from vanishing into the past.

 

Another advantage of Remembary over paper is its searchability. It searches not only the text of the diary entries and the feeds, but also the text of the dates for the diary entries. For example, I can type "December 11" and instantly see what I've done for my birthday every year.

When Steve Jobs wrapped up the announcement of the iPad with the comment that Apple had always been at the intersection of Technology and the Liberal Arts, I felt like he was talking to me. I've spent fifteen years as a software developer and technologist, but I have two degrees in English Literature - one from Oberlin "We Put The Liberal In The Liberal Arts" College. Remembary is my little lemonade stand at that intersection. I've got a little sign saying "$2.99 - Cheap!" Consider picking it up for yourself.

Posted
AuthorAndrew Burke