The power of the digital marginalia, the magic of the physical book.

DesignJun 2021

As I go about my day, I'll often have moments when I’d like something to be a particular way. Sometimes, I note these down, but often I’ll simply leave them in the back of my mind to see if they vanish or keep coming  back. I’m becoming a programmer, in part, due to these inconspicuous bursts. I find joy in having an idea and concretizing it, and programming is a venture into extending my ability to do so from the realm of design, into that of engineering.

While knowing that certain seasons lend themselves to certain modes of action, and recognizing that I am in one of learning and apprenticeship; I’m still compelled to honor these peculiar forms of consciousness as they emerge. That’s where a blog proves itself useful, in that it allows me to concretize them to the extent that I currently can – through design and communication – and have them find their way into the world.

In a sense, I’m trying to leave the paradigm of ownership over ideas behind and rather enter one of facilitating them into the world and the minds of others. That seems like the right thing to do. So, here is the first of what I think will be many more.

Underline is a tool I often wish I had on my phone when reading a physical book. Yes, I do read on Kindle, and have become rather a sparse consumer of physical books out of care for the planet. But, every once in a while, I’ll treat myself to a flesh-and-bone book to go through the joy of underlining great thoughts, encircling interesting ideas, and annotating my own takes on the margins.

Often, I find myself wanting a single-purpose piece of software that uses the might of text recognition but only on underlined text. A simple app to bring the incredible power of the digital marginalia into the magical world of a physical book. As a result, I put together the pitch deck below as a weekend project to articulate this idea in broad strokes. Not as a finished product but as a starting point. Comments and ideas are welcome; and if appropriate will be added here with proper attribution.

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