a new innovative notebook

Back in July I received a nice package from Karen and Sunny at Exaclair to try out their new Multimedia Enhanced Journal. I was sent a pocket-sized raspberry notebook to review.

It’s taken me quite a bit of time to write this review because it took me a while to figure out how to fit a different kind of notebook into my workflow, even one that finally works to blend digital and analog technologies. I’m particular about certain formats and was also in the middle of several notebooks. I’ve been gravitating more toward large (6¼ x 9¼) or A5 sized notebooks so the smaller form factor was different from what I’ve been using.

The magic of the Multimedia Enhanced notebooks happens when you link each page to a variety of multimedia options, from photos to video and audio. I’ve used photographs as they are my primary medium for the way I sampled the notebook. These enhancements are accessed through either an app installed on your phone or tablet (iOS and Android) or the web interface.

The notebook is well made and the paper is as lovely as you would expect from lovely Clairefontaine paper. It takes a fountain pen as well as a ball point.

I think this will be absolutely brilliant as a travel journal. While we haven’t travelled much recently, I have used it to document bike rides, such as one we took to the semi-local Pelham Bay Park.

When Karen approached me, my first excited thought was to use it to help me manage book reviews. Since signing up with netgalley, I now receive more e-ARCs than paper copies of books. The issue is that these are like library books and they often expire. Depending on the file format I’m sent, the book might have to be opened in a variety of ereaders. I was caught unawares by the expiration issue at first and struggled to figure out how to gather all the information I needed to properly write a review. I am quite far behind in actually reviewing several of the titles I was sent as they expired! My solution was to take screenshots of passages I’d need for later, but I found it difficult to link those to my notes. Now with the M.E. Journal, I can take notes there and set up an album of the relevant screenshots. I still need to write up the review for this library book I borrowed, Daily Rituals: How Artists Work, but at least now all my notes are in one place!

If I wasn’t so reliant on grid paper for my knitting notebooks, I think this would be perfect to track my designs in a different way than I currently do on Ravelry.

Overall I think this is a great notebook with infinite potential. I love that it blends two technologies in a way that doesn’t force you to use digitial if you don’t want to. The pages of the notebook are perfectly functional in their traditional manner.

I do wish few things were done differently: I am frustrated that the name of the journal is boldly embossed on the front cover, I prefer more understated branding so I made a fabric notebook cover to hide that. It would be easier if the QR codes were always on the outside of the facing pages. I primarily write in the right-hand page and found that code difficult to scan with my tablet because it’s almost lost to the page-gutter shadow. That’s ok though because you can manually type the short code in if it doesn’t scan. I really wish there was a grid paper option, I’d very likely turn this into my knitting notebook if that were the case. It’s come to my attention that there’s no back pocket in the notebooks. I stopped using these years ago, so you’ll need to add one if you like that notebook feature. While I agree QR codes and kittens don’t mix, this is definitely an appropriate use of them. The app, both for mobile (android) and the web, is a little cumbersome and clunky, but not overwhelmingly so.

Please check out the M.E. Journal FAQ for more specific information on how to use the tablet and web applications.

You don’t need to take my word on the many benefits and potential uses for this notebook. Here are a few other reviews with great ideas:

Pick up your own M.E. Journal at your favourite retailer.

Thank you Karen, Sunny, and Exaclair for sending this journal to me for a review. I look forward to seeing the new ways these innovative notebooks are used.