I Miss Being Tactile- Is There an App for That?


October 25, 2010

Conway Stewart Chatsworth Collection Fountain Pen

CBS Sunday Morning had an intriguing story yesterday about pens.  Not the pens you pick up at CVS or Walgreens for a couple dollars, but beautiful, hand-crafted fountain pens.  The story detailed quality pens and the popularity of collecting them.  The issue comes when a pen is damaged because there are almost no craftsmen left who repair pens.  One man, Richard Binder, known as “The Pen Doctor” is changing that.  He was a developer of high-tech computer software and gave that up to use his skill at repair and crafting fountain pens.

We live in such a fast-paced world, I wonder if more and  more people are missing being tactile. We walk around with our smart phones in our faces, texting, tweeting, and updating our FaceBook sites.  We have voice mail, DVR, video games to help us exercise, and technology in almost every aspect of our lives.  I’m as guilty of this as anyone.  But, like the Pen Doctor, I am finding that I miss being tactile.  I miss the days of writing everything in my life down in my Franklin Planner.  I miss the need to go to a library once in awhile and use the old card catalog to find a book.  The feeling of flipping those little cards and trying to determine where the book is located.  Then, finding the book and reading though the yellowed pages that smell a bit musty.

The days of circling ads in newspapers, clipping coupons, writing someone down in your Rolodex, and writing checks are almost gone.  But somehow, I still find that seeing a story about fountain pens makes me want to buy one.  I miss writing all my thoughts down in a journal with a really nice pen.  I should really go get one.  Now…..is there an app for that?


  • There are apps that let you write with an electric stylus but I’m with you, it’s not the same. Working online is greener so I try to do as much online as I can. But I still tend to print out longer documents to read them, then write up all my notes, to dos and misc. thoughts on the backside to get maximum use out of the paper. I like the feel of the paper in my hand… if we could only make paper out of recycled cellphone packaging!

    • @Laura- I agree with trying to be green and like you, I do most of my writing online. Love the idea of using the back side of the paper to add notes. I’ll have to give that a try.

  • Yup, stylus was my first thought too.

    This is one reason that I can’t bring myself to move from books to a Kindle or similar items. I like books far to much to be part of the revolution that gets rid of them.

    • @Dwane- I’m like you with the Kindle and similar technologies. They look cool and I almost buy them, but then something stops me and I walk past them to the “regular” books and buy one of those instead. Thanks for weighing in.

  • I used to let my clients fill out their cheques or sign credit card receipts with a Cartier pen. I did cheat and get a roller ball, which writes almost as nicely as a fountain pen, but easier to maintain. I still have that pen. Being that it became an utter nightmare to get refill cartridges (proprietary ones, I must add), I seldom use it anymore.

    People loved writing with that pen. That pen actually inspired you to write clearer and neater, as it amplified any messiness!!! Yes, I am dead serious!!!! Unfortunately, this was one of the signature touches that I used to offer that went by the wayside. I lament that it became so difficult to maintain that tradition.

    I haven’t browsed through a Cartier boutique or catalogue in quite some time (since there aren’t any in St. Louis, MO any longer), but I can’t help but wonder if Cartier or Mont Blanc wouldn’t be forward-thinking enough to offer a stylus in one of their signature fountain pen bodies?

    There is nothing like the feel of a high-quality fountain pen. But I have a feeling that if you look around, you could probably have that feeling in with a stylus at the end, rather than a pen tip.

    • @Doug- I can only imagine how nice it must be to write with a Cartier pen.

  • …and the answer is NO!!!

    Cottage industry, anyone?

  • If you miss writing the thoughts down, it might be a good idea to give yourself a 5 day writing trial. Don’t put anything in the smartphone, evernote, onenote, or whatever your favorite capture tool is. Just write it in a little notebook, or some 3×5 cards clipped together, or maybe you miss using a Moleskine. Maybe you miss it because you’re missing some comfortable thinking space or insight creation?

  • Reminds me of a recent episode of the TV show “Fringe.” This particular episode took place in an “alternate universe” where a series of strange events revolved around the presence of ball point pens….items that in this technically advanced universe were nearly obsolete. Sounds a little strange & bizarre, especially if you don’t follow the show…but really, how different is this from where we could be headed? Interesting…

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About Trish

A former HR executive and HCM product leader with over 20 years of experience.




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