Friday, November 16, 2012

Useful programs for organizing information

Like many other people, I am constantly on the lookout for useful organizing tools. Here are a couple to ponder, and play with, over the Thanksgiving holiday.

Evernote: Evernote's slogan is "Remember everything." It's a free program downloadable to most platforms (computers, tablets, phones) and operating systems. The main product is an application that allows you to create one or many notebooks. You can type in information, copy urls, add photos or drawings. You can share pages or notebooks with co-workers, organize notebooks, and add searchable tags. Content is also searchable.

Best of all, Evernote synchs across platforms, so if you update something in your phone, it will be updated in your computer as well. There's also a handy little plug-in, the web clipper, that lets you clip and copy content or urls. Oh, and you can format your notes as text or lists. I use it as I scan the web, and I've also moved all my recipes into it. It's nice not to be dependent on all those decomposing fragments of paper.

TheBrain: Graphics-minded users find the mind-mapping software TheBrain very helpful.
Here's how the website describes it:
TheBrain moves beyond linear folders and lists, letting you create a network of information organized the way you think about it. You don't have to force any idea or project into a single folder. With TheBrain you can connect things to anything else. TheBrain applies visualization to your information, creating a digital map 
I tend to be more of a word person than an images person, so have found Scapple, which I've just started playing with, to be very helpful as I think things through. It's available in a beta version from Literature and Latte.  Here's a description:
Scapple is a tool for getting early ideas down as quickly as possible and making connections between them. The main advantage of doing this in Scapple instead of on paper is that you don't run out of paper (the Scapple canvas expands to fit as many notes as you want to create), you can move notes around to make room for new ideas and connections, it's easy to delete and edit notes, and it's easy to export your notes into other applications when you know what you want to do with them. 
The beta version is free; the developers ask for comments and feedback. The final version will be very low cost.

So try these programs out, play with them over the holiday, and let me know what interesting uses you come up with for them. I'll be taking next week off from blogging, so will be back November 26. Enjoy the holiday.


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