The personal database of the future?
June 21, 2013 12:37 PM   Subscribe

So I've been using Evernote for a while now to organize research, projects I'm working on, collecting articles, recipes, etc. I've used Backpack in the past to organize projects and plan trips. I'm curious about possibly upcoming/newer solutions that are in this similar vein that might be more robust, have better search capabilities, etc for collecting and organizing all the information in your digital life. What do you guys use? What comes after Evernote? What is the precursor to "Computer.. pull up all recipes that involve chicken, cheese, and cilantro." or "Computer.. all articles on Ruby on Rails relating to PostgreSQL databases." or even... "Computer.. all guitar tabs I've collected by Modest Mouse" (Who knows, maybe I just have to wait for Evernote to advance)

I went through older Ask posts and found things like MS Access, personal wikis, DEVONthink, Yojimbo, various Android apps, references to different 37signals software solutions, with posts dating back to 2008 and beyond. It seems as of now most solutions are notes collected by notebooks and tags, or notes collected by tags, or something of the sort.

Is there a program/service that lets you set data-types, for example "person" or "recipe" or "guitar tab", and assign behaviors and fields to those objects? I'd assume there's a whole slew of complexity involved with that, but that and more advanced search would be the first two steps that come to mind when envisioning the personal information management of future-times.

Obviously there are use-cases that don't come immediately to mind as well. Maybe I'm looking for a job and I want to create a dossier on each company with facts relevant to my job search, and I want sub-objects for notable people that I will be interviewing collecting my research. I know a lot of this can be accomplished with Evernote, but I'm curious if there have been any advances in making such databases more "fluid." (For some reason the notes/notebooks, although it's powerful in its simplicity, seems clunky to me)

tl;dr do you guys know of any software/services that go beyond Evernote for cataloging managing all of the information in your life?
posted by walka to Computers & Internet (5 answers total) 19 users marked this as a favorite
Are you using tags? Are you using tags well?
posted by oceanjesse at 12:43 PM on June 21, 2013 [1 favorite]

I used to use personal wikis for this. Everything can easily link to everything else, so it's easy to build all sorts of hierarchies of data. But personal wikis tend not to be cross platform (web, OSX, Windows, Android, iOS) and they often don't support images in a reasonable way, so I stopped using them.

Springpad does a tiny bit of what you're talking about. It has something like 15 data types, and those have fields that you don't see if they're not populated with data. For example, the recipe data type has eight different fields that are mostly optional. It doesn't have custom data types, or custom fields in those data types, however. I imagine their system might (eventually) be extensible to something like this, but I don't know that it's on their road map.

Evernote does a lot more, but I like Springpad better than Evernote in the sense that it's simpler and much more visual. It's easier for me to use and locate information that way. It has a "Board" layout for a notebook, which is way to drag and drop notes in a visual space to create relationships between them. (This is strictly visual. There are no data relationships). But that's one way to solve your job dossier request. It doesn't really do what you want, and does less than Evernote in a lot of ways, but what it does, it does better than Evernote as far as the way I organize information.
posted by cnc at 12:53 PM on June 21, 2013

I use Notational Velocity for everything note-based. It's not perfect (it's text-only, though for me that's a feature not a bug), but I swear by it. You can use tags, or you can include keywords of your own within the text (either innately, or by adding them at the bottom). Also, and this is a major bonus for me, it's not cloud-based or browser/gadget-based, though it's easily syncable.
posted by tapir-whorf at 1:17 PM on June 21, 2013 [1 favorite]

I use Catch Notes. I think it's very similar to Evernote but for whatever reason, I prefer it.

I've recently started using a program called Trello, as well. It's not really meant for what you're talking about but I think it could be with some out of the box thinking.
posted by dobbs at 4:26 PM on June 22, 2013

I'm also really interested in this question. Check out this post, it talks about some of the limitations that you mention:

As far as current tools, there are some mind mapping/project management tools that integrate with Evernote (Curio, MindJet, They basically let you drag and drop Evernote notes into a visual space, but, as cnc said, the visuals don't represent connections in the database.

The only personal information managment (PIM) software that I've seen that actually bridges the database-visual layout divide is TheBrain, but I'm not a huge fan (it's expensive, and you can't alter the visuals - they're generated from the database). There are also interesting non-PIM examples like Visual Thesaurus, and Google Fusion Tables.

I think there's a really big opportunity to make visual complements to Evernote using their API. Bubble Browser goes in that direction, but not in a very useful full-featured kind of way.
posted by milnehouse at 2:07 PM on October 16, 2013 [2 favorites]

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