Posted by: Roger King
I took an informal survey of people I know, asking them what software they use to collect, organize, and share ideas – and what I got back was a surprisingly broad set of applications. I tend to know Mac folks, and so the list below is rather Mac-heavy.
I collected this list because that’s what the new world of web and desktop apps are all about: IDEAS.
Notebooks as a note taking paradigm. These applications use the metaphor of a physical notebook, often including covers, tables of contents, sections, and after-notes. Check out Notebook and NoteShare. This second product makes it very easy to share (for reading and writing) notebooks over the Web.
Buckets of notes as a note taking paradigm. These applications allow a user to break notes up into folders and subfolders. Check out Yojimbo and SOHO. Evernote is a combined web and desktop app.
Word processing apps. MS Word and Apple Pages, of course.
Networks as a note taking paradigm. VooDooPad claims to do this, but I can’t figure it out.
Organization enforcer apps. These applications embody specific organizational philosophies. One example is OmniFocus. It supports the Getting Things Done paradigm, which I don’t actually understand. There is a web app that does the same thing: Nozbe.
Outlines, task lists, and stickies apps. These simple idea applications are of course extremely popular. Take a look at rememberthemilk and zenbe lists. They are both web based. I hate stickies; they’re a nice way of simulating the mess you get with pieces of paper everywhere. A less annoying variation on this is Edgies; your notes end up stuck to the side of your display and pop out when you click on them.
Email, messaging, and video conferencing. These applications enable dynamic, real-time communication, and are often used to coordinate team activities. Sometimes, you can record interchanges for later viewing and posting. Gmail provides a nice combination of email, messaging, and video messaging capabilities. Skype is a free conferencing app. Commercial ones are WebEx and Adobe Connect; these are subscription services – and they are not cheap.
Photo collections, slideshows, & videos. A lot of photo management apps support the posting of slideshows on the Web. Adobe Lightwave and Apple Aperture are good ones. YouTube is of course widely popular.
Multimedia presentations. These sorts of applications are only now emerging. One powerful (but relatively low-level and still fairly academic) approach to multimedia presentation development is the XML language SMIL; it allows you to program sophisticated presentations involving audio, video, images, text, and animation, and it provides powerful controls for interrelating them in 2-space and over time. Of course, there is PowerPoint and Apple Keynote; they are arguably multimedia, but multimedia is an afterthought with them, and so they aren’t really designed to present truly integrated, multimedia presentations.
Blogs and RSS feeds. Check out this highly informative blog. (It’s mine and you are about to loop.)
Social websites. Yep, Facebook.
Stories, scripts, and storyboards. The Montage movie script writing app and the StoryMill writing app are sold by Marinersoft. Another popular writer’s app is Scrivener. Probably the most popular movie script writing software is FinalDraft. Toon Boom sells a very fancy storyboarding application.
Diaries & journals. Two popular ones are Mariner Software’s MacJournal and Journler.
Spreadsheets & simple database systems. We all know about spreadsheet apps, but there is a simple desktop database app from Apple, called Bento.
Mind-mapping. Most folks know about MindManager. Another one is Curio. There is also one with a pretentious name: TheBrain.
Wikis, forums, and content management sites. You can download free server-based apps to install on your server from bitnami, and there are websites that provide free services, in case you don’t want to spend countless hours figuring out how to build a wiki or forum site, or (Heaven help you) a Drupal or JOOMLA content management system. Google Sites is very good.
Screen & audio capture. I like Camtasia for screen and audio capture. But there are others, like Sreenium. Good audio capture apps are WireTap and the free Audacity. There are lots of higher end audio apps, like Peak and GarageBand. You don’t need me to give you a url for GarageBand.
Finally, I note that there are many applications, including some of the ones above, that provide multiple ways of managing ideas.