Tool Review: The Fineliner App for myPad

New technology isn't the answer to every challenge

One of the things that I’ve gained a bit of a reputation for over the past few years is designing graphics that have a decidedly hand-drawn feel.

Chances are you’ve probably seen this one before:

Whenever I share a new graphic like this, someone inevitably reaches out and asks something like, “Hey Bill,  What app are you using to create those images?”

The answer often catches folks by surprise:  I create all of my hand-drawn graphics with a pocket full of fine liners and a notepad that I carry around in my backpack.  I’m a fan of Sharpies of all shapes and sizes — and PaperMate still makes a killer pen.  Most of the time I don’t bother with color.  Black and white suits me just fine:


For me, the physical-ness of creating graphics by hand helps me to connect with the content on a deeper level.

While lining and relining text to make it stand out, spacing and respacing text to make it fit, and choosing words to emphasize with underscores or parentheses or funky lettering, I’m reflecting and rethinking and reworking my own ideas.  The recursive nature of creation forces me into recursive ideation — and recursive ideation is a good thing.

But there’s a more important lesson to be learned here, y’all:  We’ve GOT to get to the point where we recognize that technology ISN’T the answer to every challenge that we face, every product that we need to create, or every task that we need to finish.

In fact, sometimes us #edtech devotees end up COMPLICATING things by looking for digital solutions to otherwise simple tasks.  Convinced that technology can make us more efficient and effective learners — and it CAN — we stumble around with the false notion that technology can make us more efficient and effective in ALL situations.

The result: We blindly rush to embrace gadgets and gizmos that add no real value to our lives or to our work.  We want glasses with groovy eye pieces that can take pictures instead of being satisfied with the cameras that we all carry in our pockets.  We want projection screens that we can touch and tap because touching and tapping projection screens is somehow “interactive.”  We want apps to create hand-drawn graphics instead of using our hands.

Now don’t get me wrong:  I dig technology too — and I’ve found a thousand ways to use new tools and apps to make my life more enjoyable, more entertaining and more productive.  I also spend tons of time showing students how technology can make THEIR lives more enjoyable, entertaining and productive too.  Give me ten minutes of your time and I’ll show you five tools that will rock your personal and professional worlds.


But please make me a promise:  The next time that you are prowling around the web looking at #edtech innovations, be sure that those “innovations” actually make your life easier.  Just because something is cool doesn’t mean that it’s useful.


Related Radical Reads:

Losing the Confidence of our Communities

Is YOUR School Wasting Money on Technology?

Does Your School Have Technology Vision Statements?

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