After I quit using Gmail earlier this year, Evernote has become my biggest silo and single point of failure in my workflow. I have been using it since October 2010 with a premium account, and maintain some 4500 notes, about 25GB total in size. With my move away from Gmail, my use of Evernote has actually increased as well. Part of my e-mail triage process now is forwarding receipts etc to Evernote, before removing them from my mail box.
As with leaving Gmail, there are no immediately visible alternatives to Evernote, that cater to all convenient affordances I have become accustomed to. This was already apparant when I quit Gmail, when Peter Rukavina and I exchanged some thoughts about it. So in order to make the first steps towards ditching Evernote, I will follow the recipe I derived from leaving Gmail, as I presented it at the Koppelting conference in August.
Why do I want to leave?
- It’s a single point of failure for both private and work related material
- It’s on US servers, and I would like my own cloud instead
- It’s not exportable in a general format
What I don’t like about Evernote
- No easy way to get an overview or visualisation of my notes (although notes are easy to link, those links are not visible as a network)
- No easy way to mine the total of notes, aside from regular search for specific notes
- No way to let Evernote use my own cloud / server for storage
- No reliable way to share with others who are not Evernote users themselves
What I like about Evernote
- Really everything can be a note
- It’s cross device (I consult material on my phone, and store e.g. boarding passes there during travel)
- It has good webclippers for most browsers (allowing choosing the destination notebook, tags, and add remarks)
- I can easily share to Evernote from most apps on my phone
- I can e-mail material to it, while indicating destination notebook and adding tags
- I can automate Evernote stuff with Applescript (I e.g. integrate Evernote with my other core tools Things (todo lists) and Tinderbox (mindmapping)
- It makes handwritten stuff, images, and scans searchable (even if it doesn’t convert everything to text)
Next steps will be coming up with viable solutions and alternatives for each of those points, and see if I can then integrate those into a coherent whole again. Terry Frazier pointed me to The Brain again today on FB. The Brain is a tool I heavily used from 18 to 13 years ago. It turns out this mindmapping/note taking tool is still around. It currently works cross-device and has Android and iOS apps, and allows attaching files and navigating links in a visual way. It comes at a hefty price though, and still looks like it really is from 1998. Will explore a bit if it might fit my needs enough to give it another try.