Thursday, January 5, 2012

Evernote Redux

I have used Evernote for several months now and have found it a great advantage. While I could not justify the $5 a month for premium the free service is something I would definitely recommend. Evernote is available on all computer platforms, including Linux through the web interface, apps for I-Pad, I-Phone, Android, and Kindle Fire. I can upload a pdf via the desktop, upload a photo of a poster with my phone, and a Sketch using my I-Pad or Kindle Fire.  In addition as I surf the web in Chrome I can easily clip pertinent information and include it in a notebook.

Often  emphasis is put on data being public or private, when the real issue is control. Who controls your data and more importantly what control you have over it. What Evernote excels at is giving you back some of that control. Having your data on 10 Web 2.0 sites does not give anyone a sense of control. Evernote helps by connecting those separate information sources together in a notebook or stack.

For example, you may have this meeting in which you sent and responded to emails, tweets, websites, documents, and even a picture from your phone. These are all separate pieces of information from different devices and services that really should be connected somehow. This is what Evernote is designed to do. You can have a note or notebook that includes a tweet, website, documents, emails, and notes about a particular meeting. Think about a staff meeting or conference with all the separate information sources connected in a meaningful way.

This past semester I used Evernote for two projects. One was a paper on E-Books and the other was a collaborative Open Source presentation.  When the projects were completed I shared them publicly, but otherwise they were private or shared with specific individuals.

For the E-Book paper, notes were created from entire pdf's, screen captures, photos, websites, important quotes, and general thoughts on the topic. So, rather than just merely citing a dissertation I read, I could include the whole thing as an attachment to a note. That pdf could then be connected to screen captures and websites on the same topic. As I read the dissertations I copied and pasted important information I wanted to come back to. When the pdf's would not permit this I used screen capture to carry out the same function. In a given note some information was pasted text whereas other information were inserted screen captures. A given notebook could have a note about Kindles that included a pdf version of a dissertation, pasted text, screen captures, and other notes about related websites or Tweets. Evernote allowed me to control and connect separate information sources together within notes, notebooks, and stacks.

The Open Source project was more collaborative in nature. Initially it allowed me to share important websites on the topic that served as a starting off point for the group.  As the project progressed it enabled us to share and further develop our presentation in a collaborative manor. In the end I shared the finished project publicly.

So, I am curious has any one used Evernote for themselves or with students. I can see it being very useful for research that crosses traditional and internet based information sources.