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What's the best "personal memex" app out there right now?

After 7 years of lifehacking, I still haven't completed my info capture/search/relate process.

Certain workflows I've gotten to a point where I don't even think about it anymore. Todo's and projects I use +Todo.txt and email I use my 3-bucket Gmail system[1]. Events go in Google Calendar, stuff I want to read later goes into Instapaper. Recipes I want to try/cook again go in Evernote. Places/restaurants I want to visit sometime go in my Foursquare todo list. Blog post ideas go into WordPress drafts list.

But there's this grey area of stuff I find online that sort of relates to something I'm interested in or considering working on and I don't know where to put it. For example, I just found a "Pull to refresh" iOS controller [2] which is something we might find useful for the iOS app at some point in the future, but it's not a filed issue and it's not on my todo list (yet) and I haven't got the time to dive into it right now. I'm constantly finding articles that make impression on me that I might want to reference in a future post or podcast episode and but it's too easy to lose it the daily information onslaught.

Ages ago I used DevonThink when I was writing my book to organize, search and connect my research [3], but it feels like overkill for casual everyday use.

Where do you put stuff you might want to remember later? Evernote? Delicious? Pinboard? PDF library?

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What is the 3 Label Gmail System? I don't use Gmail but would love to find out more about the system to see if it is applicable.

I just file the web bookmarks into a relative few "area of interest" folders. Then "I remember reading something about... " and in a few clicks I can find the bookmark and go. Fast, simple and effective for me.
I've recently fallen in love with Dropmark (, as it captures documents, URLs, and videos with equal aplomb, and sits in a sidebar of my browser--which is where I suffer most of my FOMO/use-in-the-future attacks. For some reason--and this is the differentiating factor for me--I'm more likely to come back (often) to my collections in Dropmark than in Delicious/Pinboard/etc; it feels like a Pile of Stuff, and my brain works in Piles of Stuff.
I don't have an answer or suggestion but wanted to thank you for starting this because you have the following to bring the best of the best to the top and I'll benefit. Please be sure and update as you find the good apps. Thanks Gina!!!
Evernote is definitely the app I use to "save for later" mostly in a catchall notebook with some tags to help me surface the data later.
If +Google Sites would ever get their act together it would be perfect. What it needs is Extension support. Then a personal wiki would be awesome. I have always wanted to create one but I haven't found as solution that is device agnostic enough that gives me "on the fly" adding functionality.
I second Evernote. Especially with the Clip To Evernote Chrome extension.
I record it in gitmarks. Allows me to capture a URL, the page content, and, optionally, some tags, which is enough info to find it again with git grep in the future, hopefully.
Delicious is still alive and worth considering .. you could always tag them as "one of these days" and pipe it into Google Reader. 
Evernote because it is ubiquitous and easily extended if necessary, even if just AppleScripting it on the desktop. 
I faced the same dilemma, and have been using Evernote.

It's amazing search capabilities do the job for me, after I learned a couple of lessons "the hard way:"

Initially, I used tags that related to my ultimate objective, thinking that would make them easier to find later, but instead, I just ended-up with an unmanageable collection of tags.

Now what I do is just dump everything into an Evernote folder (mine's called "Tom's musings"), and (this is the important part) I quickly check it to be sure it contains words I'm likely to search for when I search in a month, or two, or eight.

If not, I add those words.

For example, I'm pondering a cloud storage project for which I've found a number of useful things I'd like to reference later. But not all specifically use the word "Cloud." So, I add something like "Cloud" and/or "XXXX" to the note (where XXXX is the name of the "top secret project I'm contemplating).

It takes a moment's more thought than just a quick "clip & run," but so far, it's been working perfectly well, without the never ending list of tags and/or folders.
Hate to go old-school on you, but what's wrong with (synchronised) bookmarks?
Gina, I live inside of Outlook because I can manage my whole life in one place. I put misc info like you mentioned in Outlook's Notes. I categorize them using broad categories. If I can't remember which category (which is rare), Outlook's Advanced Find feature takes me right to it.
Evernote for me. I use different notebooks for different categories of knowledge / areas of interest. I particularly like the web clipper as it allows me to save content that might later disappear or change. Craigslist ads come to mind.
+Gina Trapani Thanks. Will try out the 3 folders method.

I actually created <a href="">Quick File for Outlook</a> which is used by thousands of users for filing emails to folders.

While folder based filing meets the needs of many professionals working on projects/cases etc, I do think that a simpler system is needed for many other people.

I will definitely look into your system further.

I have found myself using the chrome g+ plugin to share websites to custom circles, like bookmarks. What's nice about that is I can add notes to the post when i share it, then I can search for them later. The circles are empty do no one but me gets the posts.
Todo’s and notes, contacts, (photos of) scribbles, important bookmarks: iCloud. Research for mid-size projects: Evernote. Stuff to read later: Instapaper.

The book I’m currently working on, and all related research: Scrivener, a godsend for writers. Write, outline, collect everything in one place and use Dropbox for synchronization/backup.

Google’s web history. First I thought it was scary – now I’m often using it instead of bookmarking. When someone mentions an artist or article, I use Google on whatever device I have with me, even if they give me the URL. Later, I can grab the interesting bits from Web History (“What was that band that A. mentioned when we had lunch? Ah, there it is.”)

For everything else (transactions, articles, books, even more bookmarks), I have built a custom FileMaker database. With 100+ fields, it’s as fine-grained as can be, but the problem is recording snapshots of real-world stuff quickly enough with FM Go. A phone with a virtual keyboard is just not the right tool for capturing important moments/thoughts. If Siri could talk to my personal database, it would be Heaven.

PlaceMe (see Robert Scoble’s interview with the founder) sounds promising, and I really want to use Daytum for more than just playing around.

So: The personal Memex really is ... personal. If everyone used the same, it would be a World Memex or, I don’t know, something called “Facebook Timeline”. :)

All that being said, I think there’s still room for an aggregation service to fulfill that Memex promise. Something like Memolane, but tracking your activities on local devices, too.
I put absolutely everything I want to remember or come back to in Evernote. It's part card catalog, part journal, part idea file, part to-do list for me.

It might not be the ideal solution for someone who is very organized by nature. But I'm not organized unless I can find a single solution for everything. Evernote (because of its great mobile apps) has been that single solution for me!
This is why I enjoy a GTD-ish system using OmniFocus. I feel confident I can dump just about anything into it and keep it under control in "Someday" lists and projects that get reviewed every week.
another Evernote user. I try to put lots of tags on them, and use lots of notebooks, so I can find the stuff later.
And I do tend to try and capture web pages instead of just saving the link, since so many pages disappear.
+Gina Trapani I actually share it with different empty circles here on my +Google+. That gives me the easy way to search it chronologically (for some reason that works really well for me) or through the power of Google plus my world. +Leo Laporte might be interested in that tip to understand where the advantage of this feature comes in ;) Like that I also don't need different services with different logins, different tabs in my browser open and so on. So I have empty circles for work related stuff, things I would like to read later and so on. I'm doing this for a few weeks now and so far it seems to work rather well and I like that I only need one search engine to find all my notes.
I use Evernote. I've been doing a lot of comparisons back and forth between it and it's competitors and I've been pretty happy with it thusly. Was hoping Springpad would have https by now, but they've missed that boat, even with their latest update.

But by and large, Evernote holds most anything. I use RTM for tasks and to-dos and just switched to Pocket for saving articles. I use for some automation between Pocket and google reader (anything I star will get tossed to pocket for later reading) which helps relieve the feeling that I have to read my whole feed as I'm scrolling through it.
I used to use, then moved to when Yahoo made shutdown noises. Especially useful: an Android app that will handle a "share" intent for URLs so you can tag them on mobile devices
I use action method "back burner" tab and then regularly review it.
I use Springpad to file just about everything I encounter that I can use later. If I come across something that I need to review before filling (don't have time to read, or just not sure how relevant it is) I'll stash it in readitlater (now pocket) and then either file or delete.

Both of them have apps on mobile.
Someday/maybe list. Create a tag in Evernote an forward these items to that. Review he list periodically and either remove the items or move them to your todo when you are ready to think about tackling them. 
I use lots of storage space and make up the organization/hierarchy as I go. As someone else said it's basically piles of stuff not unlike a junkyard. I like to visualize the mass of information as a gently undulating manifold in space where you carve out deeper ruts and grooves through repetition. Since the forest of information is created over time it's very easy for you to become intimately familiar with the body of information just by making regular visits. If there's a limit to the storage capacity of the brain in terms of address space I haven't encountered it yet and I'm into the multi-terabyte range. It's been said that women navigate their way around mazes by use of mental pictures(breadcrumbs) whereas men typically use a slightly different strategy. It might be helpful to add a scented garden style component in the future for pointers and triggering with your most cherished memories.
I organize on the fly by thinking how would I relate to this file if I lost a significant portion of my memory, which unfortunately has happened in the past due to aneurysm :(
For synthesis and composition I think used in conjunction with Gmail, Celtx, Evernote, etc...will prove useful.
You might be interested in the books "Thinking in Systems" by Donnella Meadows, "On Intelligence" by Jeff Hawkins and "The Fifth Discipline" by Peter Senge. Maybe you've already read these?
Really enjoy all your posts Gina-please keep em coming!
Sorry for long post-I drank coffee!

PS, If anybody's interested I've got some of Vannevar Bush's old personal effects that I'd be willing to share
I use my wo blog. Installed Twitter like theme and jot down the link and what I thought. Then tag/ category the post. My blog is supposed to be a log. 
I use Evernote and Google Bookmarks.
Also, I wonder why anyone has not yet mentioned Google Bookmarks ?
I use Evernote to store things I may use someday. Then when I am searching for something with Google via Chrome browser I have the automatic Evernote searching enabled so at the top of my search are any Evernote notes that pertain to what I am searching.
+Gina Trapani - can you elaborate a little on how you want to find the data later? By keyword? by text from the source? as someone wrote, by date(-ish)?

Looked at another way, do you want to use this 'system' for recalling stuff you're found or have a searchable bucket-of-stuff?
+Gina Trapani I just create a Read It Later Circle in G+ and save the content that way.
Org-mode for Emacs is fairly incredible in terms of capturing and organizing information. Through the use of inter-file links and org-capture templates, you can capture information and file it as you go.
I use it for everything, including calendar deadlines and appointments, recipes, videos, and blog entry drafting. The capture templates can include the date and a link to the file/line from which the capture was made, making the system great for TODO lists, including coding TODOs. It's all plain text, so you can version control it if appropriate and export it to HTML/PDF, etc.
Evernote mostly.

I no longer trust Google after they screwed us over by abruptly shutting down Notes in Google reader with no transition path. They're too rich to care whether I trust them, so I don't.
I'll second Matt Boswell, stuff that I want to hoover up for later consumption goes right into Evernote for indexing, usually via the web clipper add-on.
This may not help any but I'm big fan of simplenote. It's like evernote but JUST text, no images and such. If I do have an image or web article I'll put it in evernote but as far as a quick reference I use simplenote. There are several nice apps for it (I like notational velocity on mac and resophnotes on windows/linux (with wine)). The web interface is all right and it has an ios app.
EVERNOTE ALL THE WAY!!! After Leo recommended it a couple years ago I've integrated it into my life. I access it with/from all my devices and its synced everywhere. I even use it to keep track of recommended This Week in Google apps picks, tips & tricks - but rarely Jarvis' weekly 'number' :)
I'd file it in a special folder within Instapaper
I have a Circle named "Bookmark" with no people in it and the "Share to G+ Button" extension on Chrome. G+ posts pull the first bit of text from the page so my search keywords are already there and I don't have to type anything just hit share.

You could have more Circles ( a variation on email triage) if you wanted.
Evernote and Pinboard redundantly. I'm leaning toward Evernote.
The new is really nice and might serve this niche for a lot of people.
I'll add a vote for Evernote! (And rhyme while doing it...)
+1 for Evernote. I dump everything there that I have even a vague notion about.
Gina, there's a Chrome add-in called Send To Kindle that seamlessly forwards any articles/discussions that you'd like to read later straight to your Kindle account. Cool!
Catch, Evernote & Pocket work for me.
I use Evernote for keeping stuff for 'someday', Instapaper for when I have time (eg a few days to a few weeks) or a link in my todo list.

Things I think I might want to follow up in a few days I leave open as tabs in Firefox and the session saves on exit. This is like a inbox/nagging list - or procrastination - where I have to make the decision what to do with it in a few days. At that point I either follow it up, delete it or put it in Evernote, Instapaper or link it in my todo list.
+Tino Kremer I used to use Delicous for that exact purpose - I had nice tags and everything. Then I got lazy and (assuming it was from my RSS) starred it in Google Reader and scanned through those looking for that one thing. Now that bucket is my +1 list.

Definitely going to keep my eye on this post for ideas.
As most folks, I use a combination of tools. Anything 'interesting, but not sure what to do about it, gets +1'd and I then rely on Google to serve it back up to me via personalized search results (or search history, or the +1 list on my google profile) when I need it next. Anything really interesting gets shared on G+ which again promotes it in the google search results (or I can go look in G+ search, and filter the results to 'From You').

I clip stuff to +Springpad with the bookmarklet (not the extension), which lets me file to one of a few notebooks (ToDo, Reference, Someday), and add tags to assign projects and contexts. Springpad have broken quite a lot of stuff in their upgrade to v3, but they're working to fix issues.

I've tried Evernote for this, but prefer the look and functionality in Springpad. I've also used Catch in the past, but now prefer it just for editing text over bookmarking (because save/sync is robust, and you get a big text window to edit in).

For work I use Outlook tasks - because when I'm working I have a PC open 90% of the time. I used to use Outlook for personal stuff, but lately I find I prefer to turn Outlook off when I get to the weekend.

Interested to hear what the rest of the community comes up with here.
I would send it to evernote using the chrome extension. I have a dedicated notebook called references for that, with bits of code and how-tos I would like to try sometime later. You could tag them with what project they are related to.
I found that the problem with bookmarks is that the article could "disappear" before I use it if the site is redesigned or something. (It has happened before with a article, i recall)
Right now I'm working studying for my masters degree and for any kind of ressources I find and need to reference later I use . It comes with a plugin for Firefox and Word.

For anything not related to that I make Bookmarks and organize them in Folders. As soon as I don't need them anymore they get deleted.
I use Evernote for such things, I have a bunch of different notebooks there and even more tags. I feel it is the easiest way.
Gina - I'd love to introduce you to It's something very close to the heart of the problem that you speak about. Can I give you an invite and even better, a very short demo?
We're in private beta at the moment, but the app is highly functional and I really think it fits what your'e looking for even now...
A side note - a lot of love for evernote as a lot of people attest. It's the best multi-device cloud-based simple word processing app. It's ok for bookmarking. But it's constrained by the opaqueness of notebook (or folders) and linear formats. It becomes a black hole. A bucket of stuff. How often do you go back to that stuff you've captured? It's static and loses usefulness almost immediately, which is a shame.
Evernote. Why? Because I can set it to show my notebooks up to show up in my Google search results. Handy when I want to write a post and I've forgotten that I already located a juicy article on the topic sometime in my past.
Used to use the Note in Reader bookmarklet until google reader stopped supporting it. Now I either share links to G+ empty circles or to Springpad. I do wonder how long G+ entries are kept?
I'm also in the Evernote crowd. I certainly don't use it to it's full potential as I'm just not able to yet nail down the perfect workflow for my personal and work life. It's something I'm continually working toward.

I'd love to see Evernote improve their To Do capability with it. I like how you can add a doc to an entry and make it a To Do so you have the document you need to edit tied with the To Do entry.

Wondering if maybe a "mini-app" for mobile would work so that you could edit and quickly add basic To Do's a bit faster than the current method of adding a whole new note and then making the text a To Do. Not sure what the best method is there.

Keep up the great work Gina!!
tl;dr: I use a very redundant and multilayered approach, from everywhere to many places to Evernote.

Now, please, excuse the long tirade.

I will star/send to Instapaper all interesting links in a (mostly) daily Google Reader scan and during my ordinary browsing (either on desktop or mobile). Short posts I read just at that time and skip right to the final, deepest step of my approach (detailed later).

My google subscriptions include a feed of my Twitter favorites (which i mark as such when i'm on the go and scan my timeline on my smartphone). Most of the time the quickest way of getting something into my system is to tweet/RT/favorite it. My tweeting activity is also backed up to a private ThinkUp installation :)

All of this (starred greader posts + links i send to instapaper + twitter favorites + links i post to twitter) are continuously backed up to Pinboard through its 'Outside services' settings with a tag denoting its origin.

Every few days I review and process my Instapaper queue reading longer articles for which I had no time before. 'Loved' articles on Instapaper are automatically backed up (again) to a Evernote's 'Loved from instapaper' notebook and Pinboard (with an additional 'loved' tag).

Then, they're mined of useful links and content while I read, and manually entered into Evernote 'project' notebooks. Sometimes I will clip the entire article, sometimes I will distill and manually type and tag the interesting bits. I will also review the 'Loved from Instapaper' notebook for things previously read and 'liked' while on my phone.

The individual project notebooks are the 'canonical' source for information I want to refer later. Everything else is accesory and accesible from multiple and somewhat overlapping stores. These notebooks are then referred and edited later as I work on those projects.

This is far of optimal: each individual non-canonical store is never a complete archive of my info; the reviewing step is quite time consuming; and I don't like to depend that much on Evernote. But it has not failed me yet.

And of course, once the "research" is done, there's still the "planning" and the "doing" steps, which involve Google Calendar (and multiple notifications), Wunderlist and pen and paper when it comes to it.
+Tom Rodman Ha! I went through the same evolution as you with Evernote. I initially tagged everything but found I rarely use the tags because its a pain to do and manage and because Evernote's search functionality is so great. And, like you, if I want certain notes to be grouped togethere easily on a search I'll type a unique word into the note so as to ensure it will show up on the search! Great minds...
+Bryan Uslick Brian, how do you set up Google in Chrome to also search your Evernote notes?. That would be extremely useful to me!
+Tom Long nice! how did you manage to make your Evernote notebooks to show on your google search results?

edit: Oh wait. I just installed the browser add-on and saw it. Never found it useful so I never installed it before. This is great! Thanks!
For me, the fewer the apps, the better. I can't keep track of more than one thing at a time anyway, and I don't want to get stuck in the trap of having to remember which app has what data.

So I just use Evernote, Google Calendar, and Gmail, with some of the spin from 's approach. I really like their use of EN's tags, although I did change it a bit to suit my tastes.

Dealing with the torrent of data from the Internet is tricky. I have to look at every item as it comes across my mental inbox and figure out, "What am I going to do with this?" Then I just deal with it accordingly in my system like anything else.
Important warning about Evernote: Getting content into it from the iPad Mobile Safari browser requires a little hacking, and I still haven't found an entirely satisfactory solution. That's one of the reasons I continue to use Pinboard for redundancy.
+Mitch Wagner I don't normally use Safari. So, for me, the easiest way is to go into Safari on my computer that sports iTunes. Make a bookmark and edit it to say "Evernote Web Clipper" for the name. Copy and paste the code at the link below in place of the URL. Then just sync the bookmarks in Safari with those on your iPad. The bookmarklet will work. Temporary pain, but from then on no problem.
+Dale Dietrich I believe you simply need to use the Evernote extension in Chrome. Double check the options and see if there's a check box you need to select. I can verify later when I get home. Just let me know if you're not seeing it.
Time for my two cents…

I didn’t even know what a “memex” was until you mentioned it Gina. That’s basically what Evernote is for me. Their motto is “Remember Everything”, and I think they do a pretty darn good job of helping people achieve that. I could easily write 1000 words on why I love Evernote so much, but I’ve distilled it down to a list of items that seem apropos:

-The company is more focused on being a 100 year company than having an exit strategy. That leads me to believe that my data is "safe" and won’t be lost in a merger with Company X.
-With their web clippers, you could quickly grab anything online that piques your interest. They just announced some updates to the Chrome version. It will do a better job now of looking at things you previously clipped and using some intelligence on the options it gives you.
-Organize your information as MUCH or as LITTLE as you want. Notebook stacks. Nested tags. Lots of options there.
-Ability to search by keywords and use advanced operators. Search by types of files. Search for words found in images.
-I don’t know of any tool better for capturing than Evernote. I love being able to capture items beyond just text. Everything captured on the fly ends up in a default notebook that can then be processed later. Every member gets an email address for capturing. All it takes is 1 Gmail filter and all of those “note to self” messages from my Android phone go straight to Evernote.

The biggest problem with Evernote is educating users about all that's possible with the app. For those of us who love it and can't imagine life without it, it's way more than just a note-taking tool. It's our external brain. A platform for true memory extension.
One of the things I really like about Android 4.0 is the Share function in a lot of programs. Evernote is automatically added to the list of programs you can share all sorts of data with, including Chrome and Feedly, so notes are auto-created... now if they would just add it to Gmail and Calendar. >_<
+Tom Long That's one of the not-entirely-satisfactory workarounds I use. It might work a lot better on a newer iPad; I'm still using the iPad 1. I can hear it huffing and puffing as it tries to do some things.
+Rich Fowler
Calendar: Maybe they've changed it in 4.0, but I'm running 2.3 and when I look at an event and click on the share button, Evernote is one of the options. Is that not showing up?

Mail: Yeah, no share functions there but you have a few options. The easiest is to simply forward the email to your Evernote account. I recommend creating a contact with the unique address in it. Emails sent to Evernote can also be sorted automatically by using specific operators in the subject line.

Other options include setting up filters for specifc types of messages or using something like to react to certain conditions.
+JD Francis Odd. For some reason it's not showing up in either version of Calendar for me-- neither my N1 (2.3) nor my Xoom. (4.0.4) I don't get any share option at all. Maybe it's because I keep my calendar private?

For Gmail, I have an easy hack: create a contact for EN called !EN, so when you type ! in the "To" field, it fills in your EN e-mail address. It's not ideal, but it works well enough for now.
I just finished writing a paper for a Law School academic conference called, "Creating a Modern Memex: Research & Collaboration Tools for Students, Staff & Faculty" (link to paper: ).

The tools I talk about in the paper are:
- EverNote,
- Microsoft OneNote,
- Zotero,
- JotNot Pro iPhone app,
- DropBox,
- Skype,
- Google+ Hangouts, - Google Docs,
- Notability iPad app,
+Gina Trapani I'm a day late to the discussion, but maybe my lifetime of experience will help (these ideas have been developed over a period of 40+ years organizing information). Anything that doesn't fit in my Calendar or ToDo List goes into my universal filing scheme of saved PDF files. EVERYTHING is organized into just 7 main categories, and then in subfolders by year and/or further category if needed. All file names end in a date <CCYYMMDD>. My 14 years of e-mail in Outlook Express is done like this, too, as is almost 20 years of categorized income and expense data in Quicken. All my browser bookmarks use this scheme. It's on all my computers, phone, iPad. The idea is very robust and easy to use, as I always can recreate the thought process that led me to file something where I did. Here are my 7 Super-categories: FOOD, CLOTHING, SHELTER, TRAVEL, PEOPLE, MONEY, INFO. The hard and fast rules: (1) no exceptions -- everything fits somewhere, and (2) everything has a date in it's name. Hope this helps.
+Rich McCue Thanks for the pointers, particularly to Notability. I've been using Note Taker HD but Notability looks worth investigating.
Bryan H
I use instapaper's folders. For development code bits (like your pull to refresh), I have a development folder. It would be nice if there was a hierarchy of folders (nested), but creative naming is a simple way to work around it
Gina, you should just go ahead and "life-train" me :)
Evernote is the place for me. I like the search capability. Suprisingly I find the search on gmail doesnt work as well
Tiddlywiki is great. An flexible single file personal wiki that can be synchronized between devices with drop box. Works in just about any browser that supports JavaScript.
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