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Information conveniently captured in Evernote; now what?

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Posted by Stephen Zeoli
Mar 26, 2013 at 11:06 AM

 

Vincek wrote:
>* I will check out TheBrain as an option for creating synthesis.  How’s
>the learning curve here?

I don’t think the learning curve is too steep or long with TheBrain. And the developer has a ton of how-to videos available to walk you through the various features.

I wrote a long review of a previous version of TheBrain (when it was still called PersonalBrain) for Mac.Appstorm (it is cross-platform and most of what I say about the Mac version applies to the Windows version).

http://mac.appstorm.net/reviews/productivity-review/personalbrain-a-gps-system-for-your-information/

Steve Z.

 

 


Posted by MadaboutDana
Mar 26, 2013 at 11:28 AM

 

I’ve enjoyed this convo, I must say. I have Evernote on all my various machines (iPad, Android mobile, Windows laptop, Linux netbook etc. etc.), but very rarely use it (although I do back up various apps to it, e.g. Awesome Note, for some reason - probably because it’s so accessible).

I’ve looked at it again, recently. It’s very nice. Lots of useful features. But nothing truly compelling. And behind it all, an uneasy sense that once they’ve got you by the short and curlies, you’re scuppered - totally dependent on Evernote for ever and ever and ever…

I prefer to keep my notes, especially project-related ones, on my own machines. Yes, they may sync with various Cloud services, but at the end of the day, I always have access to a local copy. My preferred way of storing large and variable items (web pages, excerpts from interesting articles, miscellaneous files etc.) remains Notebooks (by Alfons Schmid), which is now very stable on iPad and very pleasant to use on Windows. Above all, Notebooks deals with web material really, really well - you can copy and paste stuff in from more or less any page, and Notebooks will keep a remarkably faithful copy. For later reading, searching, comparisons etc., this is invaluable, especially since Notebooks (on iOS) has an excellent search function. The Windows desktop version doesn’t, unfortunately, but since the files are stored on disk in HTML format, there are plenty of other options, including simple Windows Search or, in my case, Copernic Desktop.

I’m interested, too, by what people say about assembling stuff - the preparatory phase, as it were. I’ve always used a wide variety of tools, depending on what I feel like, what the project is, whether it’s long or short/big or little etc. But TreeProjects has become one of my favourite platforms for assembling and drafting large documents, not least because of its excellent search function, excellent tagging, and MDI interface. I’ve tried TheBrain - more recently, excited by the enthusiasm of the revered Dr. Andus, I’ve even tried ConnectedText - but they just don’t speak to me in the same way TreeProjects does.

Which just goes to show what an amusing bunch of individualists we all are, I suppose…

 


Posted by Alexander Deliyannis
Mar 27, 2013 at 08:49 PM

 

Thanks to everyone who contributed to this thread. I’ve found several important and useful insights even though my own perspective is closer to Vince’s. I’ll try to explain:

First of all, as for Vince, capture for me is king: I do much of my reading via RSS in my Android phone’s Google Reader (yeah, I know, this will change) while commuting. I also need to capture some emails, Google+ or Linkedin posts, online articles, downloaded PDFs, you name it. Even though following developments is extremely important in my line of work, I simply have no time to search for information; I need to capture it as soon as it crosses my path. For this, I have found nothing comparable to Evernote in convenience and ubiquity.

I have amassed more than 10,000 articles in Evernote which I can search/filter as fast as I can type. Once you get that much info into a convenient tool the added value grows exponentially. I’m sure other tools like Zoot could fit the bill equally well. However, I cannot have Zoot on my Android phone. Or my Linux laptop.

Further, what Zoot and most other personal databases cannot do is share. I work with a team, and being able to share found info with them is also very important. Evernote makes this very simple with shared or public notebooks.

Going back to Vince’s original workflow, I would add in my case a very important step, something like Dr Andus’ firewall, which I would call Filter. When capture is as easy as it is with Evernote, one is bound to collect a whole bunch of unrelated information. Before proceeding to any kind of synthesis, I would need to only promote the relevant information items.

1) Capture
2) Filter
3) Synthesize
4) Produce

Evernote makes this relatively easy: one can filter and select at will and then export only those items as HTML. What is then needed is a program which monitors a folder in order to automatically import the relevant items. I have not found the ideal one yet, but there are several options.

As Vince said, Evernote is a platform, as is Outlook. For years I have relied on Outlook’s calendar without ever using Outlook itself—other programs could access it directly and provide a more convenient interface. I believe that with Evernote’s popularity someone will eventually build a convenient synthesis system around it. There are already some interesting experiments, such as TuskTools http://www.moreproductivenow.com/tusktools_calendar.html

To be clear, I do not envisage doing everything in one program. But I do envisage simple integration. Steve, the example you provided of taking an outline through several tools hit the nail on the head (as did several other points you made). This is something I do myself often with outlines and plain text files. But it is not very easy to do with collections of items, as exemplified by Graham’s efforts to escape from the Brain. ConnectedText may be a brilliant synthesis tool, but moving info into it seems a pain.

 


Posted by Dr Andus
Mar 28, 2013 at 10:50 AM

 

Alexander Deliyannis wrote:
> But it is not very easy to do with
>collections of items, as exemplified by Graham’s efforts to escape from
>the Brain. ConnectedText may be a brilliant synthesis tool, but moving
>info into it seems a pain.

You can’t really fault CT for the fact that TheBrain doesn’t name its exported HTML files individually and that it puts them in separate folders. As long as your files are .txt, HTML, or RTF files and they are in the same folder, it is relatively straightforward to do a mass-import with CT’s import wizard. CT can even create links between the imported files automatically:
http://drandus.files.wordpress.com/2012/10/ct_import_options.png

CT’s main limitation is that it is a wiki, i.e. it operates with text documents, not folders (as opposed to UR or Zoot). Although once you have the text-based topics created/imported, it’s a matter of a simple “drag and drop” to link them to external folders and files. Having said that, it would be nice to be able to import from a variety of different folders all at the same time.

 


Posted by Alexander Deliyannis
Mar 28, 2013 at 10:42 PM

 

Dr Andus wrote:
>You can’t really fault CT for the fact that TheBrain doesn’t name its
>exported HTML files individually and that it puts them in separate
>folders. As long as your files are .txt, HTML, or RTF files and they are
>in the same folder, it is relatively straightforward to do a mass-import
>with CT’s import wizard. CT can even create links between the imported
>files automatically:
>http://drandus.files.wordpress.com/2012/10/ct_import_options.png


Yes, this sounds reasonable. So here’s another strong candidate to accept the material from Evernote after the ‘filter’ and export stage.

 


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