What kind of an app would DaVinci use today to record his observations and insights?

By Jay Sardeshmukh    

 DaVinci is synonymous with being an innovator. DaVinci was curious about everything! He wanted to make sure he recorded all his insights and observations - while they were still fresh in his mind.

He famously wrote thousands of pages to keep a record of his ideas. He wanted to keep his notes private, (who doesn't?) so he made them difficult to read by using his own shorthand and a mirror script. And yet he knew someone would decipher them later. His only plea to posterity was - "I hope they let  a mathematician read them".

In addition to his codexes , he carried around small bound leather notebooks , tucked into his belt to capture inspiration and thoughts when he was away from his studio and home.  

This practice of keeping notebooks to capture insights and observations - while they are still fresh is a practice that many famous people have adopted. This article by Brett & Kate McKay covers many of them well and is a highly recommended read for all would be innovators. We can all learn best practices from the greatest.[Pocket Notebooks of 20 Famous People]

Funnily enough, although DaVinci is universally regarded as a genius today,  he had a complex about not being recognized as a "learned" man in his day. He confesses in his notes that .."while I cannot go around quoting the works of others, the knowledge I possess is from personal experiments and observations , which is  far more useful ". 

If DaVinci were alive today , instead of his small leather bound notebooks, he  surely would have carried a smartphone along with him. So the question is,  what kind of an app would he have liked to use on his smartphone?

To answer that - let us examine how he took notes and what kinds of things he noted down. 
  • For his observations and insights , he almost always used diagrams and sketches with labels. He would then add text to elaborate on what the diagram or sketch meant.  
  • Like most artists - he would sketch out ideas for his projects and proposals 
  • He rarely numbered his pages. This is because he tried to keep his observations to one page. Occasionally - he would leave an annotation to "turn over" if the idea happened to spill over a page.  
  • He would write down action plans and things to discuss with other people.
  • No record of a calendar or appointments.
  • Surprisingly - he never doodled ! :-)
When you look at the list above , would he have used  a pure sketching app today? Maybe. I am sure he would have been frustrated trying to handwrite legible text on a small screen the size of a normal smartphone. 

He would have been fascinated with the camera to take pictures of things that interested him. But as he was always curious about what lay beneath , he would never have been content to let the photograph be as-is. He would have wanted to annotate the photo and write comments.  

With his penchant for privacy , do you think he would have used an app that kept his notes on the cloud like OneNote or EverNote? I have my doubts.

I think he would have been fascinated with the ability to search and hash tag his notes. To be able to instantly pull up what he had written down about a topic a few months earlier- would have been feature he would have liked. Leafing through a paper journal to find something, especially one from a month ago, is no fun.

I think all of us can unleash our inner DaVinci to be more creative at work and for personal growth.  Keeping a Journal and notes is a great practice for all would be innovators and creators. I hope you adopt this practice too.

So which one do you think he would have chosen? 
Which one would you choose?

For reference you can check out  the following on the AppStore:

One Note from Microsoft
Evernote  from Evernote
Bear Notes  from Bear 
DaVinciNotesApp - well that's ours (a shameless plug of our solution!)
Paper  a nice Sketching App For Graphic Artists


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