Evernote — remember everything

Evernote: A very most special super program that gets rid of yellow stickies, or better, the grease pencil notes on the screen! Evernote’s site banner:


And it really does all of that. And does it well. I am terribly torn (read “confused”) at present between Evernote which I’ve been using, and a very different paradigm presented by PersonalBrain. I think I’ll be using both but I have to be careful about that.

I like EN so much I bought the premium membership, partly to help the product with my $40. They’re winning awards and have recent funding, but it’s still a start-up.

The Brain — PersonalBrain that is

PersonalBrain is a fascinating program designed as a morph, or perhaps a better term is amalgamation, of a note-taking, knowledge-basing, mind-mapping, diagramming system. Succinctly, it is billed as “TheBrain – Visual Information Management.”

For an educational and truly amazing example of the system, watch the videos where James Burke is showing a mind-bending use of the system to demonstrate connections of people and events going back in history for centuries. The intro

Special Web Event with Best Selling Author and Famous Historian James Burke

TheBrain proudly presents a special Web event with James Burke, British science historian and author of the Connections television series. This seminar will help you learn how to think innovatively, how to enhance the value of what you know by giving it context and relevance, and how dynamic structures like PersonalBrain are likely to be used in the near future to change many aspects of living, learning and working.

Burke’s knowledge web has thousands of “Thoughts” (as each piece of data is termed) with interrelationships that look like a million spiders on steroids must been weaving webs in a meth-induced frenzy! You gotta watch it.

From their site, you find these snippets

Helping People See Connections

Connections and relationships within your information make the difference between static content and actionable knowledge. For instance, sales personnel need to see how decision makers are connected to close a deal. Business managers need to see how brands and products fit into their industry landscape to make decisions. IT managers need to see relationships between their servers and applications to support user communities effectively. People need to understand the context of their information before taking action.

Containers Versus Links

Conventional file directory trees confine information to a strict hierarchical organization and are incapable of expressing the multi-layered relationships that exist in the real world.

These systems are incapable of expressing relationships the way you naturally think about them. TheBrain takes the opposite approach-it enables you to link information into a network of logical associations.

The Power of Association

TheBrain is an associative information organization system-any piece of information can be linked to any other piece. The power of TheBrain lies in the flexibility of these links. You can quickly create structures of information that reflect the way you think about your information. Each item triggers related items, bringing relevant information together as you need it.

There is a free personal version that for 30 days has all the features of their Pro system. I’m presently playing with it as an experiment to compare it with Evernote which is another powerful program that takes a different approach to information management.  I am presently using it and have written about it briefly.

Tasks: Paper vs. iPhone (and other PDA’s)

Among the world’s leading productivity tools is an advanced technology known as paper. Many of the world’s top corporations and most active internet users have adopted paper as a method of organizing their daily lives. When they think of something they need to do, they write it down on a piece of paper and keep that piece of paper with them.

I found this quite interesting. Having once, as early as 1983, set out on the quest for a paperless office (I know, I know, I was quite deluded at the time) and having now owned at least six PDA’s of various sizes, shapes and flavors (not to mention functionality), this blog is meaningful.

How DO we get things done? I’ve not tried this yet, but the article suggests

Just go to gmail.com/tasks from your phone’s browser and log in.

Haven’t tried it yet and have no idea of the functionality, but the idea of the never-ending quest for the perfect organizing tool leads me onward ….

My desk explained … finally

I am SO glad to have found mention of the following article which was found on the Fresh Mown Hay blog in writing about the FreeMind mind-mapping software:

Malcolm Gladwell, Tipping Point author and general pied piper of intellectuals everywhere, wrote a New Yorker article in 2002 explaining a similar phenomenon: ” why our desks are messy.”  Gladwell writes:

“But why do we pile documents instead of filing them? Because piles represent the process of active, ongoing thinking. The psychologist Alison Kidd […] argues that “knowledge workers” use the physical space of the desktop to hold “ideas which they cannot yet categorize or even decide how they might use.” The messy desk is not necessarily a sign of disorganization. It may be a sign of complexity: those who deal with many unresolved ideas simultaneously cannot sort and file the papers on their desks, because they haven’t yet sorted and filed the ideas in their head. Kidd writes that many of the people she talked to use the papers on their desks as contextual cues to “recover a complex set of threads without difficulty and delay” when they come in on a Monday morning, or after their work has been interrupted by a phone call. What we see when we look at the piles on our desks is, in a sense, the contents of our brains.”

I’m going to have to try FreeMind just on the basis of this interesting article!

(update 2/2/09) I did try FreeMind and still use it on occasion. It’s free, and very interesting in assisting the thought process, for some people. (update 2/16/09) And then along came PersonalBrain. See my several blog pieces on that software.