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Information conveniently captured in Evernote; now what?

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Posted by Alexander Deliyannis
Mar 24, 2013 at 09:45 AM


I copied this from the “Your Top 3 Tools?” thread, because I thought it warrants a separate conversation. I am also at a similar impasse:

Vincek wrote:
>1. Evernote—for long term storage of just about everything, including
>research/background for blogging and forthcoming book
>2. GREAT BIG HOLE (explained below) in workflow
>3. Scrivener for Windows—for (less than optimal) organizing and (very
>good) writing capabilities
> >I envision that #2 could be filled by something like Devon-Think (IF I
>used Mac, but I don’t), or Connected-Text (if I wanted another
>stand-alone program, but I don’t).  So I wait…. until this hole gets
>filled by something that integrates (not just interfaces) with Evernote.
> Another way of describing #2 is that I have a boatload of information
>that for now I have to make sense of mostly through my own head, but
>would be great to have a digital program to augment this process (ala
>writing process described by Steven Berlin Johnson who uses Devon Think
>for Mac).

I found a link to the following TheBrain forum thread at the TreeSheets Google Group; I especially like the part about the ‘information thermodynamics’: “There is a conservation between the energy (time, effort) of information entry and corresponding information retrieval.” (I believe Steve Zeoli has mentioned something similar in the past).

I’ve written elsewhere that I find Evernote’s hierarchical tag features almost as powerful for organising items as any folder-based system. I still do; however, organisation alone is one or more steps before synthesis which is what I often need; it is also not conducive to action.

Hmm, mumble, bumble… (circling in the room a la Scrooge McDuck)


Posted by Dr Andus
Mar 24, 2013 at 02:06 PM


The undertext here seems to be the age-old dilemma whether to use one software for everything or to use a tool-chain of several specialist software. I’m in favour of the latter, simply because the world is constant flux and therefore that one software is destined to become inadequate in relation to the environment and, by wanting to please a lot of common ground, it will include some specialist needs.

The latter option then requires 1) a conscious design of the workflow and the tool-chain, 2) appropriate tools for integration between elements of the tool-chain (export-import compatibility, access to a common data source (Dropbox), including separate tools that manage the transfer of data in meta-layer (utilities that help you copy and paste easily, arrange & move windows across several monitors) etc.).


Posted by Dr Andus
Mar 24, 2013 at 02:07 PM


Dr Andus wrote:
> by wanting to please a
>lot of common ground, it will include some specialist needs.

I meant to say **exclude** specialist needs.


Posted by Alexander Deliyannis
Mar 24, 2013 at 04:31 PM


Dr Andus wrote:
>The undertext here seems to be the age-old dilemma whether to use one
>software for everything or to use a tool-chain of several specialist

Yes and no (on my part at least): I don’t mind the chain, as long as there is convenient integration. What I miss here (and apparently others too) is a way to manipulate the information snippets stored in Evernote, e.g. combine them, associate them with tasks and the like, etc.

With a single text, one can start in FocusWriter or another minimal tool, continue in Scrivener, Sense or Outline4D and finalise the output in Word. One can even reverse part of that chain.

But with a group of Evernote snippets things are not so simple. The most advanced manipulation I can think of is to export them and import them in a tool such as Scrivener. But given Evernote’s connecitivity and multitude of apps that work with it, it seems rather strange that nobody has connected a writing tool or other ‘snippet processor’ to it. At best one will find task managers like Nozbe which can link to task-related info within Evernote. Nice but unimaginative. Unless of course I’ve missed something more advanced.


Posted by Stephen Zeoli
Mar 24, 2013 at 05:00 PM


This is the dilemma, isn’t it? That “synthesis” phase is the missing link to the holy grail. While I love TheBrain and use it daily for my day job, I am not sure it is a great synthesizer of data as once you put the links in, they are pretty rigid. That is, TheBrain doesn’t facilitate experimenting with information organization until you tease out new meanings and structures that illuminate your ideas if you haven’t done that work up front at the time of capture. I do agree with the commentator on TheBrain forum that it is better than Evernote for giving you context for your information—I’ve called TheBrain a GPS system for my information and I still think that’s an apt description.

I also agree with the notion implied by that same commentator that we handcuff ourselves some worrying about the ease of capture of information, when the real work comes with the synthesis. So, I would change the question to, which application is the best at synthesis? Then build an information capture system that works with that application. My initial feeling is that the best application for synthesis on Windows might be ConnectedText. (For the Mac I think it is Tinderbox.) But admittedly synthesis may mean different things to different people, and may change depending on the type of project.

This is a system that begins with Evernote capture might be a problem, since sharing of data is not so easy with Evernote, as exemplified, I think, by the relatively few Trunk applications available for use in Windows.

I’m sorry this ramble hasn’t added anything resembling insight, nor has it answered your initial query.

Not that this is part of this discussion beyond being an interesting and useful workflow: I created an outline in Noteliner on my office PC, saved it as a text file (with indents marking the hierarchy) to Dropbox. Used my Dropbox app on my iPad Mini to send the text file to the OmniOutliner app, which opened it as a perfect outline. I then saved this back to Dropbox as an OPML file, which I was then able to open in Tinderbox. Sounds complex, but the process of moving it from the text file to Tinderbox didn’t take more than a minute.

Steve Z.


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