Note taking and information scraps applications

There has always been a need to write notes and store these unconventional information scraps. Post-it has been long upgraded from a paper version to computer, smart phone and web applications for note taking and reminding while software packages like word or any other text writing application are not suitable of storing such information. 

Such information needs to store more than just plain text. Simplenote recently added tags, collaboration and version history to notes. Of course there are several other, like the more bloated everything basket Evernote.

More exciting are probably research prototypes like Jurknow (development unfortunately ceased) which is capturing time, location, context (thumbnails, web browsing, music listening), and other clues that might help us return to their notes.

Another tool from the same group is List.it. It is basically a simple note taking add-on for Firefox which can help with regular note taking and web browsing (a note taking bookmarking). The tool has a place to grow and I recently gave some suggestions to their team:

  • Two way links.
    When a user visits a web site that is saved in a list.it, it could give some visual clue (maybe a floating window, like the one to quickly enter notes) and the possibility to jump to that note. I often revisit sites and such feature could help reminding how and why I saved it. Right now links work only one way - a click in a note opens a web page.
  • Integration with a bookmark manager.
    Similar to the above. If there is a saved bookmark, that happens to be also on a list of notes, there should be a link from a bookmark manager to a note to see maybe a longer description of why it was saved. When deleting a note, a bookmark could be deleted as well (with a consent of a user).
  • URLs in notes.
    List.it right now saves whole URLs which can span even over 10 lines and take the whole vertical screen estate of notes (when they are expanded). Writing a clickable web page title instead of the whole URL would also give a nicer look to links (URL usually don't tell much about the content).
  • Due dates (reminders, alarms).
    Providing a due date (something like the approaching bar used in Bellotti's TaskMaster or TV-ACTA http://www.parc.com/publication/1128/taking-email-to-task.html) would be nice.
  • Thumbnails of linked pages.
    Not really necessary but a little thumbnail (or snippet as used in MS research http://research.microsoft.com/apps/pubs/default.aspx?id=79632) would be nice in providing additional clues to a link.


These are on their to-do list as well (except for the last one) :). I'm eager to see one of the most usable research prototype (the development of such prototypes is usually a very hard one man job) growing.