I wish Evernote had 2 more card capabilities than it has now …

Thing 1: I wish that in addition to letting me take notes and stacking them into a rigid list or matrix, I wish that Evernote would give me project desktops where I can drag notes around like I do on my dinning room table.

For example, here are electronic note cards arranged on a virtual (cork) dinning room table.

This virtual card organization was constructed with “Note Board Web” by noteboardapp.com and took me about 20 minutes to construct.

Why is a virtual dinning room table important?

Because of GTD’s natural planning model (chapter 3 *note* kindle version of GETTING THINGS DONE is $5.99 today!!!). For my brain, getting one idea, one piece of paper (or one Ever-Note) is my “at-bat” and then having the empty table to lay out all the cards that are relevant to my weekly review is getting to first base. Grouping the cards into projects is getting to second base. And when my thinking has developed enough cards that I can rough out the organization of a project, I’m at third base. Doing the work once it is organized gets me to home base.

Dinning room table is the playing field of organization for my brain. The problem with Crome bolt-on solutions is that they are not-integrated with the rest of my information management. Consequently, I get excited about them, and then stop using them. This functionality needs to be inside Evernote in order for the transactions costs to be low enough, for dinner-table-organizing to be feasible.

Thing 2

The second wish I have for Evernote is transparent atoms-to-bits interface for 3×5 note cards. Yes, crazy. But, follow me into a use model for a few steps.

  1. Have an idea while you are at lunch, jot it down on a 3×5 card, as you proceed through your healthy salad, you have a few “builds” on the initial idea. Some of these go on the original card, others go on additional cards.
    • *Note* I find that capturing ideas initially goes 100x faster on 3×5 cards for some reason. Your mileage may vary, but mine, … does not.
  2. Back at the office, you feed the brainstorm 3×5 cards from your lunch, into your (most excellent) ScanSnap iX500 and somehow it automatically knows that these are a special class of note: i.e., note cards.
    • This may seem preposterous, but if, unlike me, you bought Evernote’s version of the ScanSnap iX500 it already knows the difference between receipts, documents, business cards, and photos. No reason that we could not differentiate 3×5 cards into “note cards”. Check out this control panel in Evernote (that does not work because I bought my iX500 before Evernote offered its iX500 *Note* I AM NOT BITTER ABOUT THIS!!!).
  3. Now you have your 3×5 cards in Evernote….
    3.a. It would be super cool if Evernote could read your hand writing (Note, this is a future capability of Evernote), or at least allow you to enter the words it is uncertain of on each card.
    3.b. It would be super super cool if you could annotate the electronic card with Skitch, and Evernote were able to keep track of layers of a note just like Photoshop does.
    … and you add to the note with text and/or Skitch diagrams.
  4. Crap, you have to go to THAT MEETING where no laptops or tablets or phones are allowed around the table. What can you do to avoid wasting the time while superiors listen to themselves? Easy peasy! Re-print your 3×5 cards so you can continue to add to each one already captured, or, capture new 3×5 cards. Everyone will think you are taking notes! No problem, Evernote re-prints your cards (on 3×5 card stock, or 8.5×11 or ledger paper or European paper, or whatever your printer can handle.
    • *Note* to Evernote coders, I’m OK with you printing out a 2D bar code like the one below, on each note so that you can do Step 6 below. 

While I was in a previous job, I learned that if you try to copy US currency on color print device, the output document will have an invisibly encoded message about the serial number and IP address of your device. So Evernote coders I’m doubly cool with you encoding invisibly on the print so that you can tell when new information is incoming to an existing note. 

  1. You go to the meeting, you have further ideas which you capture on the note cards printed in step 4.
  2. You return to the office and scan the note cards you embellished in step 5, AND EVERNOTE IMPORTS THE DATA AND UPDATES THE ORIGINAL NOTE WITH THE CHANGES IN A NEW TEXT LAYER!!!! And, if you drew pictures, an additional graphics layer is created as well.
  3. Repeat steps 4 through 6.

The second wish that I have is much trickier than the first. It requires Evernote to understand notes a more complex and crazy-human, way. Humans are forever scribbling changes on documents. If you’ve ever seen attorneys in contract negotiations, you’ve seen them scribble changes into a contract, and then initial the changes. What I’m hoping for is an Evernote that is smart enough to managed unlimited versions of contracts. But, I can use for my humble 3×5 note card habit.

Transparently importing and exporting 3×5 cards (or their logical analogues) would win my vote for Evernote becoming “Nike for the mind.

bill meade

6 thoughts on “Ever-noteCards

  1. Pingback: Be careful what you wish for … | RestartGTD

    • Keith, you are AWESOME! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! For letting me know about this. I’m writing a quick look about carddesk.net right now!

  2. (Just found this site today because of a Google Alert for Evernote - you have given my the strength to again TRY to GTD myself)

    I am an Evernote Junkie - and always “poo-poo”ed OneNote although had not looked at it in over 10 years. With the recent change to a free model for OneNote and some good press, I installed it again to see what it can offer me. In terms of “holding everything in my life” Evernote still has it beaten by a mile.

    What I did find though was that to create a single Page/Note -very much like your Dining Room Table- OneNote is Pretty interesting and Cool.

    I like having a “daily place” (I guess journal but a lot more) where I have my various tasks and notes etc. Relating to “today” on a single screen. I found Evernote was not great at doing this - and for the last week have been using OneNote for my Daily page. Saving Each days.

    I know it SUCKS adding another cloud tool (I already have Evernote, Dropbox, Wunderlist as daily tools, and a few others on less frequent occasions) but I may just use OneNote for exactly that - including the ability to drag tasks from one list to the other (i.e. moving index cards on your table)

    • Fantastic news that you are restarting your GTD!!! Sign of genius! GTD=RestartingGTD :-)

      *Note* I was a beta tester for the original version of OneNote. I found giving Microsoft feedback on my requirements was like teaching a pig to sing. I did not get anywhere, and feedback only irritated the pig.

      I’ve never tried to give feedback to Evernote. And, I haven’t felt much need actually … because I keep my project filing (*Note* project filing is a different universe than reference filing, and I do all my reference filing in Evernote but none of my project filing in Evernote) out of Evernote.

      I have the cards on the dinning room table NEED while:

      - gestating projects,
      - while in the thick of beginning a project, or …
      - while I’m in short term emergency organizing situations like:
      “the painting volunteers will be here in 15 minutes, how do we
      help them see for themselves what to do?”

      Once the project gets rolling, I move from physical 3×5 cards into MS Office on DropBox … or lately, trying to use google drive and google docs.
      Frankly, Google drive has been hard because every once in a while
      (3 times in 1 year) it freaks out and “forgets” what all the files on my
      hard drive are doing there. Then, it want’s to re-synchronize from
      the cloud.

      This can get old. And, consequently I’ve developed the opinion that …


      because DropBox never forgets why it copied all these files on to my hard drive.

      But … I digress …

      I value Evernote not as a note-taking app, but as a cross-platform-reference engine. Evernote is the “back office” of my reference filing. Over the past couple years I put significant effort into finding reference card apps that would plug in to Evernote (Scrivener http://goo.gl/rWB4v0, Alchemist Guild’s Notecard http://goo.gl/qB6xDr, Mindola’s SuperNoteCard http://goo.gl/bBhMly, as well as several others some of which could read from Evernote, but not write back to Evernote) all promised to be as good as plain paper cards. But, none were or are.

      In all these tools (as well as in Evernote’s note creation) laying out cards and letting them move around to relate to one another is restricted (cards must line up in a vector, or if you are lucky, a matrix, with perfect orthogonality and no customizability) to the point of impossibility. Using electronic note cards feels like dancing with a 25′ ladder around your waist. Move very carefully, don’t let the end hit … shit don’t let the other end hit! Hey, where did that babe of an oboe player I was dancing with, go?

      Electronic note card apps are about as natural as eating a steak, with scalpel and tweezers. Or, sleeping in a bathtub.

      So what? Well …

      Cards are in the database vernacular, are a “view”. And card views have a different nesting order of the degrees of freedom (http://goo.gl/HdPrW3 page 99-101) in organizing information than everything else that Evernote does. For example, card organizing lives and dies with VERY melt-able, mold-able, deformable, conceptS of grouping.

      Evernote is weak at expressing grouping ideas. Ever-Notebooks are great, Ever-Notebooks are powerful, but Ever-Notebooks are unnatural and expressively weak in capturing the idea of groups of cards (see card groupings in images in the above blog post).

      *Aside* EVERNOTE please ditch the 25′ ladder and let’s get a canvas to organize ideas?

      Oops, I’m spleen venting about my Nike of the mind fantasies again. :-(

      So, Mr. Kranska, I think what we are both about to find is that the constellation of (often cloud-based) tools is about to start collapsing into simpler, more powerful, organizing tools. Google will buy Evernote. Or, Microsoft will buy Evernote. Or, Facebook will buy Evernote. Or, Evernote will buy Autodesk or RhinoCad3D.

      Evernote is sub-critical-mass on forming a new dominant design that we all will begin to use for the foreseeable future. Utterback’s book MASTERING THE DYNAMICS OF INNOVATION tells the story (http://goo.gl/iRCN3f). Evernote will either merge with OneNote, Vice Versa, or, Evernote will develop a defacto industry “Nike of the mind” industry standard that will supersede its current partial-competitors.

      This will take some time. But, it will be entertaining to watch!


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