Not a promo, a public service!

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I have no business connection of any kind* to the company that makes the LiveScribe Pulse pen. Therefore it is solely out of a public-spirited desire to improve the lives of my fellow beleaguered reporters, students, meeting-attenders, and so on that I have repeatedly touted the thing, starting six months ago here. (Photo below taken when I first used the pen in China.)

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I mention it again because I just got this note from a friend who writes for a major newspaper:

"For Christmas I received the Pulse Livescribe Pen you described on theAtlantic.com blog last year. As you report this is change-your-life good. I cannot believe I had not discovered this technology, or it wasn't invented before."

More in the same vein from other writers and reviewers at the company's "press clips" site.

Here is why I consider myself especially public-minded and self-sacrificing in passing along this info to others who might benefit from using the pen. This is still a niche product. Therefore most people I am interviewing don't recognize the pen or realize what it is -- and therefore aren't really aware that, while I appear to be just scrawling down notes, I'm actually recording the whole conversation in high-quality audio. Of course I would never be so ignoble as not to say, "I would like to record this to be accurate, is that OK?" etc.  Perish the thought!! But I am just observing that people who don't see a recorder in their presence tend to forget it is there. 
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* A year ago, a friend who is connected to the company gave me a sample of the pen and said, Try this. I did -- and, consistent with my policy of "pay for anything you're going to write about or actually use," I promptly sent the company a check for the price. A few months later, while I was still in Beijing, that original pen developed an odd defect. It would simply stop recording from time to time. The Beijing branch of the company swapped that for a replacement model, which has worked fine ever since. Now I have a reliable recorder-pen  -- whose on-screen info is in Chinese, providing a daily refresher course in character-reading.

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James Fallows is a national correspondent for The Atlantic and has written for the magazine since the late 1970s. He has reported extensively from outside the United States and once worked as President Carter's chief speechwriter. His latest book is China Airborne. More

James Fallows is based in Washington as a national correspondent for The Atlantic. He has worked for the magazine for nearly 30 years and in that time has also lived in Seattle, Berkeley, Austin, Tokyo, Kuala Lumpur, Shanghai, and Beijing. He was raised in Redlands, California, received his undergraduate degree in American history and literature from Harvard, and received a graduate degree in economics from Oxford as a Rhodes scholar. In addition to working for The Atlantic, he has spent two years as chief White House speechwriter for Jimmy Carter, two years as the editor of US News & World Report, and six months as a program designer at Microsoft. He is an instrument-rated private pilot. He is also now the chair in U.S. media at the U.S. Studies Centre at the University of Sydney, in Australia.

Fallows has been a finalist for the National Magazine Award five times and has won once; he has also won the American Book Award for nonfiction and a N.Y. Emmy award for the documentary series Doing Business in China. He was the founding chairman of the New America Foundation. His recent books Blind Into Baghdad (2006) and Postcards From Tomorrow Square (2009) are based on his writings for The Atlantic. His latest book is China Airborne. He is married to Deborah Fallows, author of the recent book Dreaming in Chinese. They have two married sons.

Fallows welcomes and frequently quotes from reader mail sent via the "Email" button below. Unless you specify otherwise, we consider any incoming mail available for possible quotation -- but not with the sender's real name unless you explicitly state that it may be used. If you are wondering why Fallows does not use a "Comments" field below his posts, please see previous explanations here and here.
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