How To Collect And Access Data?
A reader wrote asking
I am a writer who has tens of thousands of 3×5 note cards and no system to organize them. What I want to do is have their content available on my computer so that I can mine them as I write. Do you have a suggestion for any software that can do this? TheBrain seems to be more of a project organizer, rather than a free-form database.
It’s a question I’ve asked myself. I’ve still not found the perfect way to organise notes, especially if you’re a writer in the sense of doing a book (where the requirements can be slightly different).
Here are some of my suggestions, although doubtless there are more ideas to come:
- SuperNotecard from Mindola. This is a real writer’s tool which “uses virtual notecards to help manage writing projects. This approach focuses on the basic compositional parts and keeps the structure flexible so that it can be easily rearranged”. For both Windows and Mac
- Any outliner program (check out a list here). My current favorite is MyInfo from Milenix, which is into version three. That said, I would have to warn that its latest incarnation, though sporting some very neat tweaks, is not really stable enough yet for primetime.
- Then there are things like EverNote, which are much more of an ideas and notes collector rather than an organiser (if you think about it, it’s a two stage process, and not always easy for software to be good at both).
- Ever tried a Wiki? Wikidpad is an acquired taste, but an excellent leverage of Wiki technology. Another option, no longer being supported, is Pepys.
- If you’re using cards, you might want to check out Merlin Mann’s Hipster PDA solution, which uses the same technology. In fact, I’ve just bought some of those cards myself to try it out.
I’m not sure which of these I’d recommend. I suspect it’s personal taste. I also think that the field is still wide open, and that the software for this kind of task has not yet been written. I can hear the Mac guys sharpening their keyboards ready to tell me I’m wrong. Go ahead guys, the lines are open.