Academic Writing Process: Random information gathering: Evernote

This post is part of a series about the digital tools I use to assist me in reading, writing, teaching and living.

Evernote’s tagline is “Remember everything,” and for good reason. This free service lets you save anything you come across, write, see, or think almost instantly. Tags categorize everything for ease of retrieval and synchronization across devices means you can get to your notes anywhere there’s Web access.

Stage in my thought process: One (Information Gathering)

Where I use it: Web surfing (a handy Firefox plug-in sends whole Web pages to Evernote) and out and about (for note-taking, reminders, etc.)

Why I chose it: Tags, synchronization, and handwriting recognition. Across platforms, at any computer within reach, I can save information to and get information from Evernote. It’s online, so it’s backed up. The tags allow fast, but very granular, categorization of information so I can immediately put personal stuff into permanent storage while still quickly organizing professional stuff for transfer into other archiving systems later. An OCR (optical character recognition) system that reads handwriting means any image with writing in it gets transformed into text that can be copied, pasted and searched.

What goes in it: My brain. More specifically, things I can’t be bothered to remember but might die or be fired if I can’t find again. Personal stuff (recipes, bills, shopping lists), anything I see online that’s related to professional development (blog posts about the job market or publication techniques, random information on research-oriented topics), stuff I want to read later but will likely forget otherwise.