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43Folders.com is Merlin Mann’s website about finding the time and attention to do your best creative work.

How do you get creative with your phonecam?

Your mobile phone camera can be more than a fast way to send your kitty photos to Grandma Pearl. Like a lot of people, I use mine as a ubiquitous capture device, recording ephemeral information and visual documentation wherever and whenever it’s needed.

I’m mostly curious to hear how other folks are using their phonecams (open comments below), but I’ll get the ball rolling with a few ideas, old and new:

    parking hack
  • Remember where you parked - In a parking lot or garage, snap a photo of the section where you’ve parked. If you’re parked on the street in a strange neighborhood, grab a picture of an address, a landmark, or of the signs for the cross street.
  • “Wishlist” items you might want to buy later - If you’re out and about and happen to see a CD, book, or other consumable you might want to pick up later on, snap a photo of the item’s barcode. When you get home you can look the item up on Amazon or Froogle.com and find the best price, or just add it to your canonical online wishlist.
  • Show people where you’ve put things - If you’ve moved the mayonnaise jar with little Tyler’s college money or relocated the good scissors to your work bench, snap a photo and mail it to your housemates.
  • Document your fender bender - If you get hit by another car (and once you’re safely off the road), take a few fast photos of the damage as well as the other driver’s tag and operator’s license.
  • Wen's 1-2-3 Wash & Dry | Window Hours
  • Record the hours of a new store - New dry cleaner or Thai restaurant you want to try? Grab a photo of the hours.
  • Capture inspiring design - See a poster, interior, or typeface you particularly like? Grab a snapshot and use it for later inspiration, research, or as part of a mood board.
  • Hunt for houses and apartments - If you’re looking at potential apartments or a new house, get photos of the kitchen, the bedrooms—even the view from out of some windows.
  • Doublecheck your shopping selection - Can’t remember whether you were supposed to pick up 5 10-penny nails or 10 5-penny nails? Send a photo to the one who sent you on the errand, and have them approve your purchase by return call or IM.
  • Haircut log | 2004-09-30
  • Document your haircut - Snap a few photos of a haircut that turned out well. Get the front, the sides, and the back, and make sure to note the name of the operator. Ask them to describe how to ask for this haircut again, and type it up wherever you’re storing the photo, online or otherwise.
  • Carry your To-do list - If you’re traveling particularly light one day and just have a couple things to remember while you’re out, jot the tasks, phone numbers, or what have you on a sheet of paper, photograph it, and you’re done.

Okay, that’s enough of my yakkin’. You tell me: what’s a cool use for recording or recalling stuff on the go with your phonecam? Appropriate links to Flickr-like sites are encouraged.

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Gordon Meyer's picture

Like Frank, I use a...

Like Frank, I use a phonecam to snap a picture of the intersection/subway stop/building when I'm traveling in a foreign city.

I also snap a picture of my room number in the hotel. Now that keys don't have the number on them, it saves me from the embarrassment of having to ask the front desk when I space out my assigned room.

But my single best phonecam usage example is when I found a pair of long sought-after Doc Marten's in a foreign city. I snapped a photo, emailed it to my wife, then called her to confirm that I'd found the right pair.




An Oblique Strategy:
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