Prior to using Evernote, I never even considered taking notes online. I knew my sloppy system of copying and pasting URLs into a massive Word doc was not the best practice. But, honestly, it worked for me. Nonetheless I was excited to try Evernote as it seemed more professional. And, frankly, it seemed less embarrassing than poorly compiling notes full of typos and long URLs in an endless word document.
At first, I loved it. I downloaded the computer and phone apps and set up folders for both my classes. I constantly clipped articles and took class notes. Most importantly, I felt as though I was using it because it made my life easier, not because we were required to give it a try.
As time went on though, my Evernote began to look more and more like my word docs. I was again compiling a lengthy list of data. Realizing I might have missed the point of a content organization system, I tried tagging articles in an attempt to categorize my clippings. This, unfortunately, taught me that I use a number of mental tags to describe a document. Figuring out which tag I had actually assigned to a specific clipping ( or if I had assigned one at all) proved more challenging than originally expected.
In failing to effectively utilize the tagging system, I came across another issue I was having with Evernote. One of my favorite aspects of my word document system, was the ease with which I could rearrange each note or URL. This reordering is key in my paper writing process, as I essentially build a detailed outline by grouping different notes and sources under paragraph headings. Evernote organizes notes chronologically, or alphabetically, even when viewing a certain tag. So if I recently clipped a website I think would be useful at the end of a paragraph, I cannot get it to display at the bottom of a list.
For me, the issues with Evernote are purely graphic. If I was able to adjust the position of notes or place them under headings, I would be happy as a clam. But then again, Evernote does not claim to be an outlining aid, so perhaps I’m asking too much.
Despite the organizational issue, Evernote has a number of features I absolutely loved. Like most of my classmates, I adored the Web Clipper extension. While I clipped articles in a lower-tech way before, the fact that Evernote displayed the actual page in its dashboard proved surprisingly useful. This, more than anything taught me how visual I am as an organizer. I could never remember the titles of articles or tags I assigned, but the preview of the webpage instantly jogged my memory.
Also, as a student working full time and living outside Manhattan, I fully took advantage of Evernote’s offline capability. I spend a lot of time underground and the fact that I could take articles with me without printing them out proved to be a crucial time saver.
In all, I like Evernote. I think I’ll continue to use it, if only for collecting web pages and articles I find interesting and reading on the train. Academically, it proved to be more of a hassle than an aid but still offers a number of features I very much appreciated.
See you soon, Evernote.