Seriously. I want to know. What do you do when you read a couple of sentences in a post or article that really resonate? How do you capture and organize those snippets? What tools do you use? How often do you recall those sentences, access them? How do you search for them? Is your process working?
I struggle with this, sitting here in the Buffalo airport, reading through my feeds, waiting for my #&%*$^ delayed Continental flight home, an airline that, it seems, just cannot do anything on time these days. I’ve got a few compelling, short snips, all these great tools, and no mastery of this process. What would you do?
Technorati Tags: information, learning, education
Tom Hoffman says
Blog. Or share on Google Reader. That’s it.
Steve Lawson says
Sites / pages / posts that I find remotely interesting go into del.icio.us. If necessary, I put the main quote I’m interested in or a note to myself in the description field when I save it.
Otherwise, I have a single large textfile called notes.txt that contains all my in-process stuff. I don’t have to think too hard about where to store an idea, what to call the file, etc. because it all goes into notes.txt.
I write in Markdown, a simple way of marking up plain text for conversion to HTML (Textile is another good option).
It ain’t perfect, but that’s what I do.
Brian Gray says
I user Firefox, and have installed the Foxmarks add-on.
Anything (blog article, weblink, etc) that is interesting gets added to a bookmark folder. When I close Firefox, the bookmarks get sync’ed to the Foxmarks server.
When I open my browser at home or at work, all of my new bookmarks are already there.
If I’m at someone else’s computer, I can get my bookmarks by logging into the Foxmarks web site.
Eric Hoefler says
If it’s coming through my Google Reader, I “share” things that are interesting and “star” things I want to come back to and possibly write about. That’s my main method.
I keep drafts of posts in my Flock blog writer. That’s usually pretty effective for me.
If it’s a larger issue, I sometimes make a Google Notebook and clip quotes into it, adding comments to remind myself why I saved it. When I’m ready to write, I dump it all in Google Docs and start messing around with it.
I think Diigo is a good tool, but I don’t use it enough, probably because it doesn’t let me easily arrange articles into projects (though I know it allows tags). My Delicious tags are so numerous (and often redundant) that they’re become less and less useful.
None of those methods is perfect. I wish I had “one place” to keep, organize, and develop all this stuff, but I have no idea what I’d want that “one place” to look like.
John Maklary says
I concur with Eric. Star your items in Google Reader. Also use Google Notebook to cut snippets and a link to original article.
I, too, will often bookmark items in Del.icio.us and pray I can get back to them later. Once in a while I’ll even (gasp!) print them, too, because I can only read so much on-screen; I like to look at a real book or real piece of paper at night, after work has stopped and the house is quiet, so I can think about it. I might immediately add a resource to my blog or web site if I can snatch the time away from something else. Right now my time is even more pressed than usual because of a rigorous online course. (I have no idea how you guys travel, teach, blog, present, and do family life! I was a single parent for 15 years but it was nowhere near as busy as that!) I feel I am making compromises for survival’s sake. Process? It got lost in the blur. LOL I’m only commenting here because I got a glorious gift of a day off.
Seriously, maybe some people use Google Notebook? I’m not clear on how that works. I love the idea of using Moleskines–weird how we are now craving the occasional satisfying use of a pencil and a little leather book when we have laptops, pda’s, cell phones, etc. to store, bookmark, calendar, and blog everything!
Marcie T. Hull says
I really relate this post. I have been thinking about this lately – I feel like I am not as productive or communicate concepts as well as I could. All the information I pour over is scattered and honestly I don’t have a good way of storing or accessing it. Saying that, I would be even more lost with out Google, del.icio.us, rss, and twitter.
I keep a draft in my email that I cut and paste things to. Not the most efficient way to gather pieces, but it works. Allows me to view the information anywhere is the up side.
I too struggle with this. I’ve used Furl (haven’t checked that in a long time), I del.icio.us a lot of pages/blogs (but don’t use them to write from). One way that works for me and I think the others have done, either in Google Reader or Bloglines, is to save/star posts that I want to revisit.
I also use Flock and it has a built in web clipboard tool that allows you to drag and drop items of interest. I then use the built in blog editing tool to write, reference the web clipboard, drag any related important quotes/pics and publish.
I probably don’t reference my web snippets as often as I should. But Flock might get me started with an draft post. I can later go back to the post after I’ve reflected on the topic/idea and researched it further.
Hey, you’re doing fine. Oh, and I’ve heard somewhere that learning is messy. 🙂
Hi – I love your blog by the way, this is my first comment. Currently I use a bunch of different things, and my system works well.
1) If it is a notable full page or website and I’m reading it outside of my Google Reader, I will tag it in del.icio.us.
2) If it’s in my GReader, I will either a) use my Greasemonkey script to add it to del.icio.us, b) put it in my shared GReader feeds (if I want to share to an audience), or c) highlight the section that I want to note, and save it in Google Notebook.
I am loving Google Notebook right now. The browser extension allows you to highlight any text in GReader or outside of it, right-click to select simply “Note this!” and it will automatically stick it in your notebook of choice. I have multiple notebooks for different purposes, ie: Action Required is the stuff I have to file, Quotes/Writing is general notable quotes, whereas I will often have a specific project notebook to store all related important clips for a given project.
You can also have sections within the notebook to enhance organization that way, and from http://www.google.com/notebook you can drag and drop clippings around. Of course the clippings have the URL automatically attached, which is great for bibliographies. (you can also annotate notes with comments, or write free form notes). (oh, and it saves images as well, which is helpful since I’m usually researching art history)
3) Like Suzanne, I also need to print sometimes when I find especially great resources. It can help to read and write by hand.
4) When I have a complete G Notebook, I will sometimes export as a doc to Google Docs or print out the entire notebook for easy reference in physical form.
As you can see, I’m a big fan of google! But what can I say, their systems work well for me.
Derrall Garrison says
I’ve started having multiple windows open in Firefox and then within those windows trying to keep open tabs that relate to the project or task. As I move through web pages I move the tabs, group them, and close what I don’t need anymore.
For any online content that I want to be able to keep track of and possibly use later, I use Diigo. Not only can you book mark and tag articles like del.icio.us, with Diigo you can highlight passages and annotate them. That way I can go straight to the quotes I like and can check my previous thoughts on them. I also use Diigo in student research projects by having the students create groups to which they invite me. I can check their comments and highlights for each article they use in their research.
John Pederson says
Pencil and paper.
If you can get past a little geekines with Mars Edit as a Blogging client, their “Post” template is really cool.
Somebody mentioned Google Notebook–I haven’t used it for this specific purpose, but I think it would be an excellent application for what you just described.
If you use Firefox, there’s an extension (add-on) for it that makes this process a one-click thing.
Paul Bogush says
I created two wikis. One is for general ed stuff and videos. The other is for all things 2.0. Everything is broken down by category and in some cases can easily be cross linked between any of my three wikis and two blogs. I have never been so organized in my entire life until I started using them last spring.
brent schlenker says
I want a tool that allows me to select some text, and then when I paste the text the URL and a link is automatically generated as the source.
Its cutting and pasting images and links that’s such a time suck.
Skitch is AWESOME for quickly grabbing screenshots from anywhere, but now I want the same kind of tool for grabbing web text with the source link.
Why can’t anyone make THAT app?
That’s what the Firefox Google Notebook extension does exactly.
Just highlight the text you want and right click. Then click “Note This” — it seems the note and the current URL will go into the last Notebook you used. You will be notified which notebook the clip was moved to. You can easily move it to another Notebook, if you like, by clicking “move”. You will then be prompted for which section of the notebook to move the clip to. Wow.
A few months ago I began using BackPack from 37signals.com. It is a free web-based, semi-structured wiki. There is a companion program, called PackRat produced by infinitenil.com, which can be used when you’re away from an Internet connection and which automatically syncs with BackPack the next time you’re online.
I agree with those who are using Google Notebook. I can create a Notebook for each topic, for instance, “Quotes to Use in Presentations” and then access them wherever. I love the way Notebook captures the URL automatically which makes it easy to return to the original site. I also love the ability to add comments.
Forgot to add: you can add notes, lists, files, images to BackPack on multiple pages. You can also use “writeboards” to create document drafts individually or collaboratively. Pages can be made public or shared privately if you desire.
I use a combination of TextEdit (searchable by Spotlight), del.icio.us, Google Reader, and Bloglines, but only because I’m too cheap to dive into DEVONthink. Steven Johnson has a great post about it. Be sure to click through to his NY Times article as well.
Three other applications worth looking into are MacJournal , Journler, and DEVONnote.
My “process” is pretty straightforward: if it’s a site I plan to use in a future training session/presentation, it goes into del.icio.us. If it’s something I may want to blog about, it goes into ecto, the editor I use for writing.
My MacBook goes everywhere with me so I have links in Firefox for both. All I have to do is click to capture either link and then come back to it later when I have time to do more processing.
Just one problem with this system. In the rare instance when I find myself on another machine, I have to think hard to remember my user names and passwords for either del.icio.us or my WordPress login. 🙂
Sometimes I save the entire page to my desktop or a designated research folder and hope to remember why or to go back to it. Other times I will copy/paste into Word or an email and send to one of my email accounts to remind me to address this in a timely fashion — with or without captions or notes.
Sometimes I will take a screen shot or only copy the URL, or email the story to myself.
I live in the stone age… ugh.
Alfred Thompson says
>>> I want a tool that allows me to select some text, and then when I paste the text the URL and a link is automatically generated as the source.
Microsoft OneNote does that. I use it for just that purpose. I also tend to blog about the things that really mean a lot.
Tom Hoffman says
Oh… I do keep things in tabs in Firefox if I want to blog about them later but don’t have time. But if I don’t get to them in a reasonable amount of time, I just close them and move on.
I’m giving serious consideration to DevonThinkPro although DT makes cheaper products. Take a look at this review: http://www.douglasjohnston.net/weblog/archives/2005/05/22/devonthink-attic/ to learn how a powerusers does this.
Eric MacKnight says
Del.icio.us, like so many others above, but no one has mentioned Zotero. And in my rss reader, BlogBridge, I can ‘pin’ an article, which keeps if from sliding off the bottom of the list.
I love google notebooks for highlighting those sentences or bits of information that really “grab” me. I can organise as many notebooks as I like and its really good that I can share my notebooks with my colleagues or my students. It’s that feature that makes those snippets work for me.
Clarence Fisher says
I’ve been loving Flock for a long time now and one reason is because of a plug – in called Scrapbook. It lets you save a screen capture of a page and then you can highlight and work with pieces of it if you want. You can also just save an image, etc. if that is all you want.
Karen Janowski says
Ask and you shall receive!
Was wondering the same thing and now there are many possibilities to choose from. Have to quickly figure out which one works best for me as I’m providing a two-day workshop on Monday and this information will be useful for that.
Curious to know what you end up going with, Will. And now that you have Leopard (learned that from your twit), do you find that one system works better than another?
I use both Google Notebooks and MS OneNote (for those times I’m stranded in an airport with no wifi or too costly wifi). W/ Google Notebook I can access from any computer w/ internet access. Oh, and I must confess — purple pen and paper also works wonders! As does my (never leave the house w/o) digital voice recorder!
Mike Dionne says
I use Google Notebook. I can clip any webpage or parts of one. I can edit my own text as well. I have been using it recently in presentations as well. Any website or note either my own or from the audience, that I want people to walk away with is put into that notebook. I then collect emails from attendees and email them an invitation to the notebook and all of it’s contents. I am hoping that they will continue to add to the notebook. This way a presentation becomes a 2 way street that continues on!
Harold Jarche says
I haven’t found the perfect process yet, but I’m using delicious (as are many others) to track personal knowledge management (PKM):
Sue King says
Currently I use OneNote – I have various notebooks set-up and in each notebook I have different sections. I am extremely challenged organizationally with paper and I am stunned that I can manage this process easily. I can also email directly from my OneNote notebooks. I have a shared notebook set-up for my team leaders at school and I can place things in there for them to read and react to and email them a task to tell them it is there. I am liking it – but I am still pretty low tech (would be much more so if it had not been for having you as a teacher!!)
Eric Verno says
I use a combination of Firefox and OneNote 2007. In firefox, I have the add-on to “Send to OneNote”. I store all of my information in OneNote. I can create a blog and publish it directly from the program, or copy it into my blogging platform.
OneNote has a GREAT Feature set for this EXACT situation!
Katie Day says
Like so many others posting here, I’m a huge fan of Google Notebook, available wherever there’s internet access, from any machine. Definitely download the Firefox extension, so with one right-click, you can pop in a snippet and a link.
When I go through my Google Reader inbox, I make entries in my various Google Notebooks of things I want to follow up on or want to make notes on (though, yes, I also use del.icio.us to log websites, as well as diigo).
I maintain a number of notebooks and it’s easy to move notes from one to the other. For example, one is for “Books of interest” — definitely useful before heading to the library or bookstore. Another notebook holds my “Notes on books read”. Yet another is “Articles to think about”.
As a teacher-librarian, I work with a variety of classes on different units of inquiry — and I create a new Google notebook for each one. It lets me build up ideas, links, etc. to sort through later.
In a couple of weeks a friend and I are doing a short workshop on Social Software for fellow teachers and we’re using a “shared” Google notebook to log and comment on sites, ideas, quotes, etc.
My “General” notebook is useful for logging things like airplane ticket reservations (so I don’t have to wait for the confirmation e-mail to arrive in my in-box — I just clip the relevant information and feel safe to leave the ticketing webpage).
I use iGoogle as my personal homepage so my Google notebooks are readily available (along with my Gmail, my Google Reader, etc.) Yes, I’m a Google fan…
Jay Hurvitz says
My problem is that I can’t readily categorize everything that I want to save. I bookmark items right and left, and use Google Notebook (and Diigo) for particular snippets I want to save. I try to use del.icio.us for items I’m sure I want to share, rather than continue to consider, or take a look at, by myself. But of course these distinctions quickly blur and I find myself asking which tool I want/need for a specific type of saving.
Ultimately I discover that the changes I make in my saving strategies stem more from the feeling that I want to make a distinction than from something inherent in the item I’m saving.
But more and more I find myself doing something simple with almost everything – even if I bookmark an item, or put it in a notebook, I also simply copy/paste the URL into my gmail along with the snippet I want to save from that page, and perhaps a comment to myself. It seems that EVERYTHING ultimately finds its way to my gmail, and searching for it there, rather than over multiple platforms, is relatively easy.
Ray Ferrer says
I usually make a hard copy of the info for me to chew on (figuratively). I may catalog it if it proves to have a siginificant influence on the way I think.
I agree with those who said post the snippets into Google Docs. A few well-titled and sufficiently generic docs are all it takes to store this info until I can decide what to do with it. (For example: teacher thoughts, God & Bible, interesting misc.) From there, the stuff that seems important to keep I drop into Documents to Go for my Palm Tungsten and sync that for even more portability and permanence/availability. (I’m not wireless with my Palm just yet…maybe a few more years…)
Hi Will, I have to completely conquer with Valerie! My favorite tool of all free tools is Google Notebook. I have students using it now as they are researching Darfur and presenting in groups. I can evaluate their progress by sharing their notebooks. Making my notebooks more useful than just a to-do type of list, becasue I have pulished my conference notebook to google docs as a summary of my understanding of the K12online conference. http://docs.google.com/Doc?id=dgz4k5vr_85cqc7dm
Only con I have is not being able to email a complete notebook directly.
Kristina Hurley says
I use zohoplanner’s notes feature to gather ideas together. I have the ability in zohoplanner to move my notes around so when I think I am ready to make a presentation about that topic then I just reference my notes online.
I use the http://www.monsur.com/projects/readeroo/ plugin in Firefox for quickly grabbing pages for later, a file on Google docs to cut and paste into (haven’t actally tried notebook but it sounds good) for sentances/phrases.
I learn Chinese so sometimes hear phrases that go into another Google docs file.
Fallback position is a large postit note on my desk, gets folded into the ticket pocket in my jeans and assimilated later. I aquire more than my fair share of those little pencils from Ikea so I always have a writing implement to hand 😉
Elizabeth Ross Hubbell says
Usually, I just star and tag it in Google Reader. If it’s really mind-blowing and includes a web link, I’ll add it to my del.icio.us account. I used to use Clipmarks (which I liked much better than Google Notebook) but I don’t any longer. Not sure why….probably a mistake.
Quentin DSouza says
Look for keywords and sentences that pique my interest and then home in on the main idea of what I am reading. If I can’t read it right then, I will bookmark it for later consumption.
I use the google notebook or other tools that come standard on my computer to store my thoughts. Bookmarks work well for me as well.