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April 06, 2007

Using NoteShare on the Internet - watch the video

We officially launched AquaMinds Demo Theater this week.  The site will be hosting a series of instructional videos that we're producing this year that showcase user applications and various workflow scenarios.  Each video will highlight product features and technologies in action.  The first video features the use of web research agents that help students and researchers quickly assemble Internet research sources into custom notebooks.

The resulting personal notebook then becomes the basis for a report or research project where the user's work can be organized in one place.  We specifically highlight the Homework Assistant script in the video which is one of the basic web research agents we provide with both NoteTaker and NoteShare.  If you're using Dashboard, our web research agents are also available as widgets (free download from here).

In the scientific realm, one of our most popular research agents is the MedResearchPro widget which enables a federated search of both NLM and Google Scholar used daily by physicians and medical researchers in the life sciences.  It also should be noted that Internet search and browsing features are built-in seamlessly to our products so that the richness of web content can be included with any notebook page.

Collaboration and using NoteShare to manage this video project
During the production of this video, we used NoteShare to manage the project.  During the early phases of brainstorming and outlining the script, we collected our thoughts and ideas in a shared notebook.  This was ideal as well as convenient because we had contributors literally scattered about the country and mostly in different time zones.  However, the project notebook itself was being shared 24x7 from a Mac Mini running NoteShare in headless mode so team members could work on their part anytime (and anywhere).  One of the most compelling uses during the project was the script editing and actual video previewing.  In this case, each version of the QuickTime-based video was added to the shared notebook for review and annotation purposes.  As the project evolved, it became even more important that we could access a single shared notebook to work on the script.  By having everything right there in one place, we didn't waste or lose time on searching for previous work and resources.  The project was easily managed using one shared notebook.

Although we did have a couple of meetings to discuss and review scripts, for the most part, the project was the result of asynchronous collaboration.  In fact, if I were to draw a pie chart of the time spent on various tasks to complete this project, it's likely that over 75% of our project team's time was spent working asynchronously and that a smaller slice of the pie was devoted to real-time collaboration.  We still had meetings in a room, we still spoke by phone (iChat too) but we didn't use e-mail exclusively to command and control the project.  NoteShare really enabled this project to be managed on time and on budget.

Putting operational knowledge to work (by using a shared notebook)
Projects have a life of their own at times but one of the advantages we've learned from using NoteShare is that we can refine and improve upon the process next time as a result.  As the team begins to work on the next video, we now start with a shared notebook in place that not only contains the previous project's work journal but we have a set of templates and outlines that we'll use to maintain production continuity.  In essence, the operational knowledge of how we put the first video together is captured in the shared notebook.  We know what works and doesn't work when putting the next video together. We understand the writing of the script and edit-review cycles.  Process can be your ally or your foe but what we've learned is that by using NoteShare, we've enhanced process-driven productivity for both individuals and teams.