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Curio 5.0

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Posted by Randall Shinn
Aug 20, 2008 at 01:45 PM


Part of what looks so promising about Curio is that it is like a giant whiteboard on your screen. Not only can you generate text boxes, collapsible outlines, collapsible mind maps, various kinds of links, and connecting lines and arrows, but you can also put up information like photographs, videos, graphs, and so on that are drawn from material stored elsewhere on the computer. (And you can draw on it.) Want a photograph of something on your Curio whiteboard? Just grab it and put it there.

Many of the leading OS X information managers (such as Eaglefiler and Together) store information in non-proprietary formats (such as rtf, jpg, and pdf) that can be easily accessed by other programs. (Together, for example, can create a pdf of a website page that even captures background images linked via cascading style sheets [a challenge for most programs and print procedures].)

You can put a pdf file on your Curio whiteboard and annotate and draw on it. Since universities are increasing using pdf handouts (rather than paper), Curio has addressed the desires of students and others to be able to put pdf files onscreen, and annotate on them, however they want. This is similar to highlighting a text book and writing in the margins.

Version 5 addresses several shortcomings of Version 4, but I found that even Version 4 helped me sort out a couple of large-scale creative projects. I especially enjoyed the ability to throw boxes of text on the screen that addressed issues in other parts of the screen, and in at least one case I was able to see that the project as I had originally envisioned it had problems that were unsolvable without a complete rethinking. In another case I was able to pinpoint issues that helped me to drastically rework a collaborative project, and then do that reworking in Scrivener.

In sum, I think that Curio is a great place to think through creative projects, and, if necessary, share that information. And because OS X (Leopard in particular) offers so much ease of information sharing between programs, it is then easy to do work in whatever software program is best suited to that purpose. Curio can be an extremely useful module for a personal working system.

Randall Shinn