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Information conveniently captured in Evernote; now what?

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Posted by Dr Andus
Mar 25, 2013 at 01:38 AM

 

Stephen Zeoli wrote:
> 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.

I agree 100%. This is critical. The system needs to be built around the analytical engine, rather than the capture mechanism (as long as the latter doesn’t have a monopoly, in which case you wouldn’t have a choice).

>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.

Yes. But I think there is another issue here. A distinction needs to be made between note-taking (as in “data capture”) and taking note (as in “making a note of something”). Just because Evernote is good at the former, it does not make it necessarily suitable for the latter.

In fact I would argue that it even makes sense to build a “firewall” with some filters to separate captured data from actual notes. I don’t buy the “put all your notes in one system” mantra, unless this one system allows you to separate captured data from your own notes (or “data” from “information”) and also provides tools for processing (analysis and synthesis).

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

On the contrary, I think you nailed it.

>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.

Yes, in fact this sort of traffic is essential for a healthy toolchain and workflow. This is how knowledge is formed. It’s not all that different from all the containers and tubes that a distillary uses to distill the essence.

 


Posted by Dr Andus
Mar 25, 2013 at 01:50 AM

 

Let me just add that I started my data collection process with Evernote at some point but then I dropped out at v. 2.2, I think. It was not entirely a conscious decision, it just started becoming less meaningful to me, the more data I put into it.

Then came several years spent in the wilderness, storing data in a multitude of applications and using Windows Explorer to navigate the forest.

And then we finally had this discussion and I settled on ConnectedText as the analytical engine and database, around which I structured all my data and information capture (the thread is worth reading from the beginning).

http://www.outlinersoftware.com/topics/viewt/3436/35

Note that I do not put everything into CT. There is a “firewall.” Notes need to pass a filter (my judgement, and taking actual notes about the data), in order to get in. I use other apps to bookmark websites, capture web pages etc.

 


Posted by Franz Grieser
Mar 25, 2013 at 08:34 AM

 

Hi.

Dr. Andus wrote:

>Yes. But I think there is another issue here. A distinction needs to be made between note-taking (as in “data capture”)
>and taking note (as in “making a note of something”). Just because Evernote is good at the former, it does not make it
>necessarily suitable for the latter.

>In fact I would argue that it even makes sense to build a “firewall” with some filters to separate captured data from actual notes.
>I don’t buy the “put all your notes in one system” mantra, unless this one system allows you to separate captured data from
>your own notes (or “data” from “information”) and also provides tools for processing (analysis and synthesis).

Same with me. Though I use the term “note-taking” differently: Note-taking Franz-style is writing down notes or scribbling vs. collecting input from webpages or transcribing paragraphs from books/magazines (taking note is something completely different in German = noticing).

I use Evernote for collecting - to be more precise, for dumping info into a storage pile where I later (or while dumping) select the heap the info snippet is to go to.
But I feel terribly incomfortable taking my own notes in Evernote. I use various tools for that: Noteliner, LibreOffice Writer, Scrivener, XMind, OneNote - depending on the project and the kind of notes I am taking (“thinking on paper/screen” is done in Noteliner or XMind, elaborating on a subject is mostly done in LibreOffice or Scrivener, for one project in OneNote).
Evernote feels clumsy when actually writing and is of no use when brainstorming/thinking/reordering/filtering…

Franz

 


Posted by Dr Andus
Mar 25, 2013 at 09:30 AM

 

Franz Grieser wrote:
> (taking note is something completely different in German
>= noticing).

Nice!

>But I feel terribly incomfortable taking my own notes in Evernote.

Same here, but for different reasons. I logged onto my Evernote app on iOS after a long time, to check it out again. It turns out that when I registered with them 7 yrs or so ago (i.e. before social networking and smartphones), I used my real name. When I took a note this time, Evernote used location services to pinpoint my house and use my address as the title of the note.

I’m not engaging in anything illicit but this just feels far too much information to give over to a service that would also hold all my notes. If I’d sign up for their premium service, they would also get my credit card details. This just feels too much power to hand over to any organisation (not to mention they’ve only been hacked a few weeks ago).

 


Posted by Vincek
Mar 26, 2013 at 02:07 AM

 

Wow, do I every feel UNDERSTOOD!  Alexander, thanks for taking my original note and turning it into a separate conversation thread.  You have all articulated the challenge in a way that is very helpful and much deeper than I have been thinking.

For shorthand, let me put a 3 part label on the workflow challenge:

1) Capture (I currently use Evernote)
2) Synthesize ( my GREAT BIG HOLE)
3) Produce (I use Scrivener but can see many other possible workable options).

Here are a few excerpts from previous posts that particularly resonated:

* The forum thread about TheBrain and “information thermodynamics” (Alexander D).  Very interesting. I am not familiar with TheBrain.  I’ve downloaded the manual and will review the website.  Thanks.

* “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.” (Dr. Andus)

Yes, there are clearly tradeoffs between integration and specialization.  I suspect the preferences here will be idiosyncratic to individual workflow—no right answers. I value integration over specialization, at least as the current tradeoffs seem to play out.

* “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. ” (Alexander D.)

Yes, that’s the biggest problem with Evernote CURRENTLY.  However, since Evernote is a platform, I am hopeful that in the long-term options will surface; I’m willing to be patient; perhaps TheBrain is a good option, particularly is there is a scenario for eventual integration (NOT just interfacing) w/ Evernote.

* “That “synthesis” phase is the missing link to the holy grail. ”  (Stephen Z.)

Yup, that nails it.  In the meanwhile I’m stuck with my own brain doing this part :)

* “I use Evernote for collecting - to be more precise, for dumping info into a storage pile where I later (or while dumping) select the heap the info snippet is to go to.
But I feel terribly incomfortable taking my own notes in Evernote.” (Franz G)

Yes, another challenge with Evernote.

A few perspectives from my personal POV.

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

* My personal bias is that for now for me the capture part is more important.  Evernote is very good at this.  Having grown up using paper, it is becoming apparent to me that I must transition to a nearly all-digital workflow. I’m 57 and in the grand scheme of the universe very few people will grapple with this challenge.

* However, I’m patient.  The transition from paper to digital workflow is not easy and will probably take years. I recognize that the world is in transition and that new technological capabilities are being developed all the time; I expect Evernote will get better and that as a platform there should be a lot of developers that want to plug into the 55M Evernote userbase.  Over time I expect to see many options for plug-and-play apps that will fill in the synthesis hole in my workflow.

* So I think getting the capture part is essential and primary for now; once in digital format, data can be moved an manipulated.  While I see the value of synthesis, I don’t want to waste a lot of time trying out solutions that have a steep learning curve and don’t have a pathway toward eventual integration with Evernote.  Thus, I tolerate for now the GREAT BIG HOLE (lack of synthesis) but am optimistic long term—perhaps even TheBrain is an accepatable solution—I’ll check it out.

Appreciative for all your insights and thoughts.

Vince Kuraitis


I was not familiar with TheBrain

 


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