Whether in the digital or analog realm, it is crucial to use the right tools for the right tasks. As part of Creating Digital History, we experimented with the note-taking program Evernote while researching and for our digital exhibits. Due to the nature of the materials I was working with and the version of the program that I was using, I did not find Evernote to be a transformative tool for my research process, but I could picture it being useful for a project with different demands and materials.
A few Evernote features stood out as particularly useful, even if they were not crucial for this project. One of its key strengths is the ability to sync smoothly across devices. Evernote’s iPhone app allows one to take pictures and upload them directly to a notebook. This feature would be exceedingly useful for visiting an archives or non-circulating library, where time is of the essence for collecting content. By and large, though, I was able to check out the books that I needed for my project, so I did not need to use this feature extensively. Similarly, The Masses, the primary source material that was the focus of my project was completely digitized and available through an online archive, so there was no need to duplicate this material in a notebook. The Web Clipper add-on for web browsers was quite useful for capturing URL’s and images. Because most of the web resources that I found, with the exception of the primary source materials, were introductory in nature, I did not have much cause to revisit them after clipping. For research on a modern topic with extensive online resources, though, I could see this feature being invaluable. Additionally, while I was working alone on this project, I could see how the ability to share notebooks could be quite useful, assuming everyone on the team was using Evernote.
Ultimately, for a system like Evernote to be make a major impact on one’s research, it would be necessary to go more “all-in” than I did for this project. While I only used the phone app sparingly, I quickly took enough pictures to run up against the monthly upload limit placed on the free version. Evernote did not feel crucial enough to my project organization to compel me to upgrade to a paid plan. Without upgrading to a paid plan, however, it could not take on a greater role than it was playing. Naturally, as a commercial entity, Evernote is under no responsibility to provide its services for free. Under different circumstances, I could picture it being a useful tool to purchase to support the research process.