Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Evernote is not an Everything Bucket, but a Miscellaneous Bucket

If you have read this blog even a few times, you know my favorite app of all time is Evernote.  And you know I also like the web site Lifehacker.com.  They have driven some awesome traffic my way in the past.

I must take exception though to a recent post.  Adam Pash in "Avoid Everything Buckets, AKA Why I can't get into apps like Evernote", says he dislikes programs like Evernote because one mindlessly dumps data into it, without any thoughts of organizing it.

Pash says "Any of the "everything buckets" I've ever tried do many things poorly rather than one thing well ".  He does admit "That doesn't mean that you can't or don't use Evernote or some other universal capture application to great effect. (You may be a wizard at making Evernote do exactly what you want.) "

And right there, he has the essence.  How we think of information, and how we want to be able to go back to information we have encountered, is immensely personal.  Our personality types, our working practices dictate the approach we take, and the type of application we want.

Pash cites a post by Alex Payne, a former Twitter developer now doing his own startup.  as the genesis for his own opinion. Payne's piece  advocates organizing information via the filesystem, specifically the Mac file system.  He says the search capability of Spotlight replaces the search in an Evernote type app.  

Payne misses the point the most of us encounter information that merely makes a twitch a bit, "Hey this is interesting" but do not want to take a moment to think how we might use it, or how we should organize.  We just want to be able to grab it so we can deal with it later, or not deal with it, but be able to find it if we want.

Payne's solution is also Mac oriented.  The search on my Windows 7 platform is not nearly as fast as Evernote.  

And Payne's solution does not consider syncing to multiple platforms.  I love that I can enter something into Evernote while surfing the net on my iPad, and then later pull it up on my PC with no action on my part.  Or pull it up on my two year old smart phone to tell the doctor what prescriptions I am taking.

I suspect Alex Payne is a very smart guy, but he and I are coming from different places.  I previously disagreed with his criticism of the iPad when he said that he would not have become a programmer had he only had an iPad growing up.  He failed then to understand all those older programmers he works with, had tinkered with something other than computers in their youth, and then went on to build the personal computers industry he is thriving in.

I do not think of Evernote and their ilk as Everything Buckets but rather as Miscellaneous Buckets.  I still put contact information in my contact manager and appointments and events into my calendar.  Evernote gets everything else:  seldom needed bookmarks, copies of receipts I might need to have again, manuals, warranties, research information etc.

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