Thursday, May 25, 2006

Google Notebook

Lots of people have an inner-packrat that compels them to store all sorts of stuff, most of which they never use. While I don't feel the need to hoard physical stuff, my inner-packrat comes out for facts and figures. I like to store up all the interesting things that I come across when I read. Then I can use them to create an interesting blog post dispersing the little nuggets of knowledge that I have accumulated from various places. Or at least that is what I would like to do. The problem I have now is that I don't have a good way to store all these notes in a fashion that allows me to easily take notes and then find the good stuff later when I need it.

So I was excited to hear about Google Notebook. This is Google's attempt to allow you to take notes easily from your browser and then use Google's search ability to find them later. Overall it is pretty good, but has one major drawback that keeps me from using it for everything and recommending it to everyone.

Google Notebook is well integrated with IE and FireFox. There is a little blue notebook icon in the lower right corner of the browser window that you click on to bring up the notebook. It launches a small box (a browser in a browser if you will) that allows you to see your notes. To create a new note, you then highlight some text, click the "Add Note" button and your note has been saved, along with the URL of the site you are on. It captures full html and will even capture images that are highlighted. You can also create your type in your own notes from scratch if you want (I did run into an issue with IE7 where if you try and create a note and hit backspace, instead of deleting the character it moves the whole browser to the previously viewed page).

If you go to the main Google Notebook website, you can view all of your notes. There is a search function to allow you to find stuff, and a print option for better formatted text. You can also add your own notes from this page, or edit the ones that you have. You can make notebooks public so that others can view it. Since the notes are online, you can view them from anywhere from any machine (the downside of course is that you can't view them when you are offline).

But, the one major issue I have is that there is no tagging/labeling ability. With Gmail or Google Reader you can label your emails or blogs with multiple tags. Instead of having a folder system where an email has to go in to one folder, the labels allow you to put it in multiple places at the same time. For some reason they decided to create notebooks that are organized like folders where a note has to go in just one place. This really sucks. For example if I have a note about wind generated energy in China, I would like to label it China, Energy and Green. But, if I have to put it in a notebook, which one would I choose? It would be so much better with labels, then I could find all my China notes, my Energy notes and my Green notes without having to do a search or save notes in multiple folders.

The notebook is usable as is, but once they add tagging/labeling support it will become indispensable for us note taking packrats.

1 comment:

viral said...


indeed, this seems to be a solution in the right direction ...

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