personal notetaking dilemma and the rise of the cloud

When I look around my desk at work, I can see paper. I’m a notetaker. I have been since grade school. I re-use little calendar pages to take notes on, and they accumulate. While I’d love to reduce this clutter, I’m not ready to try and replace everything, such as my Moleskines. Few things are faster for taking notes than grabbing a piece of paper, a pen, and jotting something down. Few things are faster to re-reference than grabbing a piece of paper and, for example, looking at the checklist of things I have left to do on website build XYZ. Grepping my notes is harder, though. As is trying to remember a shopping wishlist while at the store when the notes are on my desk or at home on a whiteboard.

I have more little electronic devices than I’ll admit to you. Few of them get a ton of use. Part of that is the pain of using one device for a while, and then attempting to consume the same things on another device. Notes taken on a tablet are not as easily ported over to my personal laptop or my phone. And so on. Lots of people seem to be satisfied with using email to shuttle things back and forth, but that seems archaic and dirty to me.

I also have a desire to not put myself ino a position of device-dependency such that lack of that device makes me helpless. For instance, I’m already dependent on my cell phone, specifically the contact list. I don’t even know my parent’s phone number off the top of my head (though yes I have a little piece of paper in an address file). I’d hate to be even worse off if I don’t have an Internet connection nearby, or mobile hot-spot, or just an electronic device. (Story: My power recently went out, and I drained the battery on my Nook Tablet, which reminds me that I can always read physical books or magazines if I still possess the ability to create fire…)

[Aside: Magazine consumption on my tablet is a mixed bag. I like this experience, but I’m screwed on the process of ripping out a page for future reference like I can when I own the book, or maybe even taking a screenshot of a page when I’m flipping through it in the store, which I do every work day over lunch.]

All of this puts pressure on digital consumption in my life. And I also believe this is collectively a huge reason why “cloud” is on the rise. More people have more devices, and more devices that are mobile. They’re sick of maintaining their PC (though arguably most smartphones are just as challenging and frustrating to maintain). They want data/experience across multiple devices without needing experience in server/network administration.

Unfortunately, it’s still cumbersome, and the market has so many solutions that it fragments everyone and adds risk that your chosen solution will just die in a year or two. Likewise, you have lockin (iTunes, B&N store for the Nook…) or differences in experience (phone vs PC web browsers) or inability to install things (iPad-only apps). And lack of trust/privacy/assurance that you’re not being sold/used/exposed.

I’ve had EverNote on my radar for a while now, but I think my work desk situation is going to prompt me into trying it out finally. Of course, this makes me sigh in exasperation as I can probably exfiltrate data from work out to my personal systems at home, but I guess the ability to stop that is becoming more and more of a fairy tale as the months go by… Perhaps this situation is always arguable; I mean, an employee can leave a company and take everything along with him in his head, yeah?

Anyway, I had more to say in this post, but halfway through, work duties interrupted, and getting back to this has sapped my Muse…