While it is "marketed" for scientists, it is a very general tool, that allows me to archive, tag, organize and search any webpage (with the option of taking a snapshot) or digital item.
I started using it for research articles, but it quickly expanded as a general bookmark organizer, then to books and even some podcast and movies archival. I use specific folders as reading/watching/listening queues.
Best of all it is FLOSS software, which is an absolute requirement for me to future-proof my use, and has an API that can be used to interact with external software. I use it for example as a document "backend" for my emacs org-mode journal (via the zotxt-emacs package).
There is an online sync service offered at a very reasonable cost (including a free tier). This is one of the very rare online services I'm paying money for. My understanding is that the sync server is open-source, but not production ready for self-hosting yet. The devs are supposedly working on it.
I strongly recommend you at least take a look.
Joplin seems very nice indeed! But it seems to be more oriented for personal notes no? I mostly use Zotero for archiving webpages and various digital media (Zotero allows e.g. to embedded an epub as an item, or to add a link to a file stored locally).
Devon supports PDFs, Markdown, images, bookmarks (which can be viewed in the app), and more. The PDF handling is superb. The search is excellent, and it has extensive support for tags and metadata. Sync is very good. I also like that it stores each collection as a separate database file that you can keep in different places.
Among other things, I use it to collect and categorize images, which works really well because you can view any collection/folder as a "gallery".
My only complaint is that the databases are local, and you only sync between devices. I can't share notes with other people for real-time collaboration.
(The other thing is Foreflight, which may keep me as an iPad owner solely for that. Sigh.)
I believe Devon has zero support for conflict resolution. It can only overwrite or duplicate on conflict.
I would like to install, but my annoyance is that I think they aren’t implementing to try to drive more installs.
> Write programs to work together.
I use it extensively with FFox.
Regarding highlight tool I can't say, I did not look for the feature (I usually take my notes in a separate Note item attached to the article)
The author of the article is overcomplicating things. He wants the moon and as a result, gets nothing. He is paralyzed in the quest to perfection.
If instead of this, you start using your own tools today, you improve it over time. For example I use structured text files for hierarchical info storage and my tools are quite sophisticated compared with how I started. At first it was a simple S-expression lisp file done in an afternoon.
I also use databases.
I log the time I spend in HN and it is quite small. I just read as fast as I can(5 minutes) whatever interest me and organize it, every day. I write but don't read replies or anything that goes over my allocated distributed time.
Then after a while I spend time for getting deep on something and then I read all the books, all the articles,ask my friends, watch all the videos of a given subject in parallel.
Take for example Clojure. I spend a week doing nothing but immersing myself on it, real work, and use Anki to learn it.
If I were to read just one book isolated, I would not understand anything. Multiple perspectives is much better and funnier.
I'd also like all the audio and video I hear/see to have a transcript of any spoken words, with a recording, and timestamps. Video is huge, so that would need to be managed a bit.
Given these requirements, I can see a need to start riding along with Moore's law again. Text is well within our capabilities, we can't read that fast, so it should be quite feasible to store it all. The need for more storage and processor than my laptop has comes in to play with audio and video, especially transcription and storage.
Having stored this content, I want to be able to search it. I want some form of content/sentiment analysis to allow search by concept and association.
I also want to be able to rate it, not just in a single dimension, but in an arbitrary number of them. Something can be funny, insightful, literally false and metaphorically true, a bit racist, somewhat political, and in English. The thumbs up/down or limiting to a single 1-10 scale works well for forcing into a single database field, but not for actual real world use.
Every single piece of stuff fits into multiple orthogonal hierarchies, you can't store that information in any single rank system without information loss.
As for sharing, it has to be something I pay for, or host myself, with possible federation. Ads corrupt.
Implementation - The first step is to simply tap the stream of web traffic I see in the browser, and train a classifier to recognize text/not text. It is important to link it back to the source.
Once I have a reliable stream of text, I think the rest starts to align.
Then you run into copyright issues...
for example, have ur extension on page load, get the body.innerText or innerHTML, send that as a post request to your localhost server at some endpoint, and have it write to your persistence db.
then build a query layer over it. since your db can be stored anywhere like a cloud, you can just build an app/mechanism to query that central hub from any platform or webapp.
copyright issues aren't realistically a concern when only you are using it. if im going to save a picture from the internet and use it as my laptop wallpaper, i'm not going through the arduous process of getting copyright licenses to do that. hopefully, you were referring to something else.
You do if you want to scrape what you're reading on your mobile devices too, or you need to write an app for every platform (like I mentioned). Safari on iOS won't let you do that.
Copyright is an issue if you're planning on selling this as a service or distributing it as open source (like youtube-dl).
It's possible you are desiring too much. This is one of those cases where you should consider the case of diminishing returns.
That said, unless you wanted to aim for 100% (I advise against), then just use Chrome or another app on your iDevice and the history is automatically synced to your non-mobile device, where you can leverage the previous trick to scrape those sites. No need for an external app.
> Copyright is an issue if you're planning on selling this as a service or distributing it as open source (like youtube-dl).
Sure, but that's a completely different tangent from your current scenario. However, it is still very much possible with slightly different strategies.
It's open source, and handles that issue. It could spit out logs of everything.
> the core issue is an extraordinarily high level of friction in the process of finding, organizing, and sharing digital content
Absolutely. I think of myself as a very curious person, and an avid reader, but I regularly have hundreds of things in my backlog that I'd like to read or listen to, and I don't.
I tried to build a service like that, MNMN , in the form of a chrome extension as a start; but it seems that I didn't find the right product-market fit at the time. I keep going back to concepts like that from time to time.
My latest iteration (a little project I launched in ~2 hours last Sunday) is booktweets , which is just a summary of a book in a series of tweets.
I feel there's something to do/build there, but I quite can't get it right.
Apart from regularly declaring backlog bankruptcy, the only way out of this is to spend more time reading/listening and less time adding stuff to the backlog. No amount of optimizing the organisation of the backlog will help if you just keep going deeper and deeper into debt.
I think having a way to surface things saved for later would encourage me to start whittling down that list.
When you think about it as 'external brain' it becomes much more reasonable thing to do. I'm not going to remember everything I read anyway - but I can suspect some content, that I don't care about consuming now (and possibly ever) MAY be useful at some point in the future in some way, and I'd like to skip few steps of consumption (like reading the whole thing, watching whole movie) and use it anyway (have a conclusion, post a gif reaction). It's still transhumanist sci-fi, but it looks doable now.
Ps.: mnmn (manamaná) - amazing project name!
How is a Twitter account a “project” that you’ve “launched”?
I actually spent years on-and-off building this. What I found is I don’t really care about MOST information I store, and the pieces I DO care about are kept in a place I can easily memorize (eg a couple folders on iCloud).
I ALSO found that nobody really wants to pay for a product like that (in my case, it was a desktop app that’d index everything on your machine - no cloud, etc). Similar products come and go every other month, and they usually die because 1) indexing isn’t cheap and 2) people don’t seem to use said indices much, in practice (crazy high churn).
This has driven my interest into Roam... a freeform ability to connect sources/idea/data that can drive cumulative value over time rather than fragmentation and dusty old drives/notes.
I used to use DayOne as a journaling program until I realized the same thing: as soon as I stop paying, all those memories are gone, lost in time like tears in rain. Sure it is really nice and convenient software and the user experience is fantastic but if I stop paying, it's all lost. If they raise their price higher than I want to pay, it's all lost. If they go out of business or pivot or get sold or... it's all lost.
I'm willing to take that risk... but I'm not willing to pay for the pleasure of taking that risk. I ended up just writing everything in Apple Notes that's free on all my devices. Sure it's the same risk, but at least I'm not paying $165/year for something that can disappear whenever the founder gets bored.
Yes, this is why I made Open Source and open formats an absolute requirement when I started looking at journaling software. The content is irreplaceable.
After trying several things, I found that Joplin does everything that I need for journaling and note-taking. I made a point of donating to the project the equivalent of what I would have paid for a commercial offering.
What's really help me over the last couple years, with getting organized, is discovering "Personal Information Management" (PIM). Also, this website rocks:
I've wanted to do things digitally, but nothing really encompasses more than a single thing. You get email apps that maybe can define tasks from an email. Rarely more than one task per email. This is siloed from the bookmarks in my browser. Actually, more than one browser, so multiple bookmark lists. But using this even as a simple "to read"-list doesn't work, because I cannot add books, printed articles or PDFs to the usual bookmark list. Adding annotations is something to dream of. Mobile or desktop support is often broken or absent.
I'm currently trying out org-mode plus git. But I've tried a lot and I'm not getting my hopes up.
For people looking for customers: I wan't everything integrated. Don't assume everything to be the Web. Don't assume Gmail as my mail provider. Don't assume that I work primarily from my desktop or mobile device. Don't assume I'll write everything in word. And the kitchen sink ;)
I apologize in advance for my jadedness, but I see this sort of comment every time someone mentions the possibility that information organization tools could be better: "This is all very nice, but this other tool I've tried was kind of bad, and didn't really solve the world, so I think that actually everything sucks, and we should just (learn how to) deal with it."
Besides, I really don't see how this is relevant here, as it doesn't even seem to apply to most of the article's content - for instance, how would "organization" help with the fact that e-books/PDFs are woefully uninteractive and retain print-based limitations? Sure, I could manually collect all the illustrations, their backreferences, and look up every paragraph's mentions online, but isn't that kind of what computers are good at? Same with the book recommendation / sharing system.
And as for the "queue manager" and the "memex", this was exactly the author's point, it is a call for tools for organization! No amount of self-organization will help with the scatteredness of digital information, that's just its nature - we communicate in different modes, using different media, on different platforms, for different purposes. Sure, you can and try to limit the amount of services one uses: only use Twitter instead of other social networks, only use e-mail instead of IMs and Slack, only watch videos on YouTube... or file every little bit of potentially interesting info into a unified personal database - but I think it's obvious how both approaches are untenable.
Regimented approaches only work in their own, specific contexts - for a multi-modal multi-medial landscape, one needs tools that operate with these principles in mind, and so far one can only wish they existed.
1) I run a local instance. When I see an interesting link, I paste it into the textbox at http://localhost:2784/. This creates a new parent item.
2) I create sub-item under it which may include several tags, such as: #perl #toread
3) When I read the page, I create new text nodes under the item to annotate and locally store the information.
4) Whenever I want to publish something to my public blog, I add a child item with the #publish tag to it, and it's automatically pushed (using curl and HTTP GET or POST.)
5) My public blog is unauthenticated, but I could also limit publishing rights to e.g. only items signed by my particular PGP key.
6) When my notepad gets full, I archive it into a zip file and start afresh. This is how I deal with "information overload bankruptcy".
7) If I'm looking for something I annotated in the past, I use zgrep or whatever it's called on my pile of zip files.
The way I approach this is to have tiered system of files. The source is Tier 0, your cache (downloads, undeleted emails, etc.) is Tier 1, deliberately saved files in a structure are Tier 2, and whatever you are working on, view regularly, or feel particularly pleased about is Tier 3.
Here's a short blog post I wrote on this.
There is obviously a lot more to discuss on this topic. But this is a start for me.
Then suppose you download the video via youtube-dl and store it in a folder. That is also an act of curation. And finally, if you watch the video every day, post it on a blog, use portions of it and edit it, that is also a form of curation.
But I think he’s onto something, and I’m specifically looking at Slack and email, which seemed designed to force as many context switches as possible. Something along the lines of putting streams of information aside or in piles so I can deal with one at a time would be a sweeping improvement.
Amna does this! (getamna.com)
I thought I'd hate it due to lost articles / sites but it turns out I never notice, and when I do miss something I can always find it via history.
I’m building Amna (getamna.com). It does exactly that. And let’s you open new windows based on the task you’re working on.
To address this, I've been developing a framework I call Web Widgets. These are mini web-apps that run completely in the browser, but send data back to SQLite files on the server. Because the server is pretty simple, it can host a wide variety of apps, so users can build their own tools using only JS+HTML code. I've used Widgets for fitness, diet tracking, personal productivity, mood tracking, and even learning Chinese characters. I am now opening up the system so it can be used by other people, if you are interested check out this page:
I am offering free accounts, free tech support, and even free development for early adopters.
You have like 50 sources in your RSS reader, 300 people you follow on social media sites and like a dozen of other possible sources for interesting content. But what I noticed: once you add a new source to your feed, chances are high that a) it doesn't really fit your interests and becomes noise, or b) it becomes a "famous" source and quality of the content stagnates over time as more and more low-quality content gets pushed into it.
Personally, I don't see any chance that this will be solved in the near future, because the current state of the web with walled gardens, propietary content formats and the unbelievable push for monetarization of content leads to more and more problems.
Right now there's no way to immediately find out about the stuff from people I like without exposing myself to the cloud of bullshit surrounding their lives.
To be notified about a musician's new album, you could follow them on Spotify (I do this and Spotify gives me an automatic playlist of all my favorite artists' new music.)
If you go to Twitter or Facebook, their motive is to keep you hanging around every day for each piece of gossip, so you'd need to avoid those.
It’s remarkable how Amazon is just letting Goodreads run with no maintenance and seemingly nobody behind the wheel. I can’t decide if that’s better or worse than the Google approach of killing off popular products that they’ve lost interest in.
https://beta.readng.co/ is the only thing I found as goodreads alternative, but the collection of books needs to be improved. They support goodreads import, but only a fraction of books gets imported into your account because they don't have all of those yet.
I love they have an option to abandon a book, which is missing in goodreads.
 Disclaimer: I'm working on it.
I'll make that more prominent.
You mentioned there is a free tier, but can't see what's supported on free vs the paid tiers. It'll be better if you add the free tier and features to the comparison chart. Just my two cents.
A great idea regardless, kudos.
Does anyone remember Readlists? You would input links to different articles and it would format and compile them all into a single kindle ebook.
Saving Medium blogs and Twitter threads locally just doesn't work, so I've pretty much stopped reading Medium and treat Twitter as purely ephemeral.
From what I could gather, Twitter’s bookmarks have a limit and it deletes the older but it’s not said out loud.
As for Twitter, you can bookmark a link to the tweet, but it won't parse a Twitter thread for example. Same applies for thread compilers (like https://threadreaderapp.com/).
Probably the biggest annoyance with Pocket is that you can highlight stuff, but you can't export your highlights. It has an API, but it doesn't support highlights. Contacting them about that resulted in something like "we're a small team and have no API expansion updates we're willing to share right now" (paraphrasing). They also protect their sign-in form with Google's Captcha, making it non-trivial to scrape that info. The best option I found (https://github.com/karlicoss/pockexport) requires fiddling with browser's dev tools to get the consumer_key, but I couldn't be bothered to get that to work.
Memex (https://getmemex.com/) just gives you a browser extension that allows you to highlight nearly every text on desktop, but becomes completely useless on phones (they're too locked down for something like that to work).
I was also frustrated by their API not supporting highlights, I emailed their support and they replied exporting highlights is a good idea (Yes, Einstein) and they'll consider it. I love pocket TBH but this is really a PITA. So I spent sometime dabbling to create browser extension that let me copy highlights to clipboard, and ended up tuning down to a bookmarklet. Let me know if you want to try it, I can put it somewhere and will share the link.
The rest of the article is a manifestation of figuring out how to deal with it.
If people gave away their core insights and nothing else most of the time, most mediums would be reduced to post-it notes. That’s a hard sell for creators.
The only medium that rewards getting to the point is casual conversation, which is one of the reasons why on conferences you often learn more in five minutes of talking to the right person than in the entire rest of the day.
There's something intoxicating about breathing in the latest ZettleNoteMarkdown thing: I know this only too well, having played with many of them, but maybe there's a limit to what we could or should worry about remembering or finding?
I know it's unpalatable, and it makes me feel a bit sick to not be able to find Thing X that I know I've looked at once, but ultimately we're on a hiding to nothing. There will always be MORE and maybe we need to get used to it being ok to settle for less...
I think I desire these tools more out of the frustration I experience in working with, sharing, and remixing the little content I did/do have enough time for.
My hope is if I spend less time getting highlights and information from one platform to another I could spend more time arranging them into something interesting.
Amna is a fast way to do context switching. You write a task, and start working on it. Amna gives you a space with an editor and browser (more in the future), and saves your work. It makes information really easy to navigate. Though not great for general browsing, it’s perfect when you have a task to do. And you can easily come back to something at a later time.
That video is atrocious. At first I was upset at how much time you wasted on flashy poorly executed effects. Then I realized the entire video is like that. If you're going to show only one word at at time, it has to be something short like a 3 word tagline, not entire sentences. It's impossible to follow, you have so many cuts, so fast, padded with things like "woah, a browser".
I still don't really understand what the app even is. A lot of it is poorly worded, or shouldn't be there.
"Right-clicking to add a task" is not a feature that should be on the landing page. Unless you mean you can right click a tab that's not running your app. Nor should there be things like "Runs in Chrome" - so is it an extension, chrome only?
My 2c would be to make things as simple as possible for the user by cutting out ambiguity, and focusing on user stories.
It’s not a chrome extension - it can open up chrome windows.
Previous discussion: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=21659876
We're just getting started, but we're planning on tackling some of the pain points mentioned in the article
I can't also find out how to follow others or add strangers as friends, (trust me my friends aren't reading). Looking forward to how this turns out.
It's an Open Source note-taking app that stores Markdown and Web clips in SQLite databases, and can sync between instances using a variety of options, including generic WebDAV services. It has desktop and mobile versions, so the information is available to me everywhere. I still keep my emails on IMAP and my Website in Git, but I will draft any long text content in Joplin, and then just copy the text into the final location.
I use read, but I have a friend who frequently corrects me when I say I’ve read something where I’ve actually listened, like an audiobook. I use read because “listen” will confuse people slightly more in conversation that they started about the concept in a book they read. I’m not sure the correct parent is to the concept of reading a book and listening to an audiobook version of the same book. I tried using “process” but that’s pretty confusing to people.
I think the author also wants a parent to include watching a video, so consume may be best possible.
Maybe the problem of the author is that grouping all these different types of works into a single bucket is a bad idea? If you only have books, you can easily grep around them (not really a need to index them), and so on.
So still now sure what to call them other than content.
But I try not to let it get to me and made me wonder - how would somebody who couldn't see feel about the use of `content` over the word `read`? Text to speech been around long enough, possible somebody hearing this will have some interesting perspectives.