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What is a Hipster PDA?

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  • Written By: Tricia Ellis-Christensen
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 31 October 2016
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The hipster PDA, also called the hipster parietal disgorgement aid, is perhaps one of the funniest bits of low-tech organizational devices that has also been taken quite seriously. Initially developed by San Francisco writer Merlin Mann, many have improved on or customized their parietal disgorgement aids, and a cult following, which has significant presence on the Internet, has certainly emerged. This little device for organizing information is quite unlike the higher tech PDAs, and it’s definitely cheaper. It is composed of index cards, a binder clip, and a pen, and can sit neatly in the front hip pocket of many pairs of pants or jackets.

There were probably early inventors of hipster PDA styles, but thus far Merlin Mann has kept his claim to the invention of this device. When it is fully assembled, Mann claims a total investment of about $5-10 US Dollars. Customizing the device by adding fancier pens and colored index cards may raise price slightly. The way material is organized can also vary.

When people return home from work or other locales, they simply remove the used index cards. These could be placed in appropriate boxes, added to a calendar, or fully ignored if they make no sense. Labels on the cards like “Do soon” or “Do Later” could be useful for an organizing schema at home.

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One of the claims for the benefits of the hipster PDA is that writing is virtually as fast or faster than typing, texting, or using electronic PDA scripts. Keeping things organized during the day is a simple matter of taking the card a person has just written on and moving it to the back of the pile. The binder clip is then replaced.

Another claim about the hipster PDA, which does deserve some reflection, is that no one will steal it, and losing it doesn’t mean losing much. In an environment where people routinely place reliance on technological devices, loss or theft of these can be very challenging. Of course, with the increasing integration of PDA/Phone devices, the hipster PDA does have the downside of not being a phone.

There is an additional complaint from some women. Men’s pockets may more frequently accommodate a hipster PDA, while women’s pockets can be cut shorter and not have enough room for index cards. Alternately office clothing may not feature pockets. Investing in a good blazer or two that has larger pockets might eliminate this issue, but it could also limit fashion expression to a degree.

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