Snoozerr is taking lecture recording to the next level. This new iOS application allows you to capture a lecturer’s voice augmented by pictures of the scribbles on the blackboard. Yes, Snoozerr saves you from physically writing notes in class, but at what expense?

When this trendy new app made its way around the blogosphere earlier this week, I initially thought it was quite cool. One of the problems with recording a lecture with a voice recorder is the lack of visuals when playing back the recording. Tools like the LiveScribe pen and Snoozerr attempt to solve this problem by syncing aural and visual information. These sorts of tools are important in some circumstances, like Team Note-Taker’s Imagine Cup project, which helps the visually impaired see in the classroom. However, in the practice of life hacking we must be careful that we are not solving problems that do not exist, or for that matter regressing through the use of new tools.

While a blind student may benefit from Note-Taker or an individual with poor dexterity may benefit from Snoozerr, as an individual without such limitations I may actually be doing myself a disservice through the use of such tools. Yes, Snoozer is taking lecture recordings to the next level, but what if I focused on taking quality notes and truly listened to what the lecturer had to say instead of fumbling with my iPhone’s camera? Personally, I believe the result would be high quality, concise notes that are transcribed on the first-pass. I would much rather sketch a diagram on the spot than listen to the lecture a second time through to get every exact detail. To me, the tried and tested, old fashioned method of taking notes with a pen and paper trumps the new and shiny way, in this case Snoozerr app.

Just to be clear I am strong believer in the pursuit of efficiency. I love testing out new tools and I am always pleased when I discover a better way to achieve what I set out to do. I also recognize that there isn’t one single “right way” to complete a task, and what works for me, may not work for you.

I encourage you to give Snoozerr a try in your classes this upcoming semester, but before getting sucked in by the allure of never having to take notes again, ask yourself if that’s actually a good thing. Admittedly, this has turned into another Life Hacking Manifesto, but it’s important to remind ourselves from time to time that shiny and streamlined isn’t always synonymous with practical and functional.