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November 04, 2005

Come to think of it, yet another productive reason for using NoteTaker

For the most part, we're creatures of habit when it comes to learning and using new software features--we use what we know or what we're comfortable with. This is especially true of browsers, with their near-instantaneous access of web-based information.

We seem to be one with our browsers and their search capabilities. It's even reflected in our daily speech, as we confidently tell someone that we can "Google it." The answer seems to be just a keyboard moment away. And, in fact, most of the time it is that easy. Google is almost friction free.  It just works with very little energy spent. That is, we have little motive or incentive to change or learn something new. We are comfortable with the path of least resistance. Browsers and Google are like a habit.  We use them daily, almost as one action.  Why we would even use a new feature or try to do something in a new way? 

However, there is the small matter of dealing with real bits of information that are not easily "Googled" or located by searching the Internet. Even searching your hard disk with Spotlight doesn't necessarily discover a long-lost bit of information or even a recent tidbit. Call it the missing "atoms" syndrome: It's all the information or materials printed on paper stored in a folder or file cabinet or desk drawer. The frustration is that this atoms-based information isn’t residing on your computer when you need to retrieve it.

How did all these bytes or bits become atoms in the first place? In my case, it's usually during the completion of a web site transaction involving a purchase or payment that generates a receipt or record of the transaction. At this point, I’m encouraged to keep a copy for your records--and that usually means printing a hard copy. It’s a case of bits and bytes to atoms.

But I thought the whole point of using the digital model was to cut back on our dependency upon paper? And this is where life gets complicated. Many of us now work in a mostly digital mode, and yet we still have a practical need for paper records and documents. It makes sense until you need instant access to those atoms.    But come to think of it, there is a better way to keep all of this in one place without having to move between bits and atoms. Start with NoteTaker. Begin your web site session on a notebook page and the rest is easy.   

Let me share an example of what I mean. I frequently need to book flights with a certain few airlines.  Since they all have direct ticket purchase via their web sites, I have a page for each airline in my daily notebook.  On the page itself, there is an outline with a web page entry for the airline, an entry with some log-in information (I rarely write down my passwords or rewards numbers as suggested) and most importantly, an entry or sub-head with another outline list of all my previous transaction receipts.     

So, how am I doing this travel planning in NoteTaker? Simple. Whenever I book a flight and have the confirmation/receipt web page in front of me, I tear off a PDF copy of the page (the button is on the right-hand corner of the web entry's toolbar) and drop it on the same notebook page where I'm currently browsing. Or I select and drag the key transaction information from inside the web page entry itself to the same notebook page. Done. My bits and atoms about my flight plans are all in one place now.  Adding hotel reservations, travel notes and interactive Yahoo! maps creates my own atom-based travel planner harnessed in a notebook that I can take with me or publish to the web.   

And don’t forget that whenever you're using Google or Yahoo! via the NoteTaker Web Search Box (also in the toolbar), you can also archive your web page results in addition to creating PDF copies. It's yet another productive reason for working NoteTaker when you're working the web.

Posted by scott at November 4, 2005 08:27 AM