The Elephant Memory: Evernote as Online Media Archive

February 10, 2014

In 2012, I signed up for an Evernote account when I first heard of the service, but for a long period I didn’t use it a lot as I didn’t really get what all the Evernote fuss was about.

As detailed previously, I prefer to use Simplenote for my Ph.D. work log due to its simpler and more minimalistic interface compared to Evernote, but for all other types of notes, overviews and lists I have started using Evernote increasingly more. Especially, I have come to realize that Evernote is a great tool for structuring and archiving online media content of all kinds, and in this post I tell about how I use Evernote for this purpose.

IFTTT: Saving Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn Posts and Links

I use Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn actively, and I often share links and stories on these social media. Occasionally, I want to find one of these links or stories again, and previously I would start trawling through my Facebook wall, my list of tweets or my LinkedIn profile, and after too long time of searching I would find what I was looking for.

But using the automation service IFTTT together with Evernote, this process has been made a lot easier: Using these recipes for Facebook posts, Facebook links, tweets and LinkedIn posts everything I share on social media are automatically saved as notes, including relevant links, in different notebooks in Evernote.

The notes are searchable in Evernote, and if I, for example, wish to find tweets I have posted about Matlab, I simply search for Matlab in the Twitter notebook, and find the relevant tweets; see the picture above.

Notebooks for each type of post are organized in an Evernote stack, and in this way I have all my social media posts and links in one central place. And thanks to the ingenious people behind IFTTT I don’t have to ever think about updating the contents in the notebooks in this stack; it is handled 100% automatically!

The Blogging Overview

I write this blog and another one at the homepage of the danish engineering newspaper Ingeniøren, and I have an Evernote stack dedicated to blogging. It contains three notebooks: One with blog post ideas, with notes containing text, links etc. for each idea, and one for each of my blogs.

In the blog notebooks, I keep a note with each of my blog posts so that I can easily search and refer to something I have written about before. Before implementing this, especially for the Ingeniøren blog, I would often spend quite some time getting an overview of what posts I had written about a specific topic before writing a new post. With all blog posts stored in Evernote, I can easily search for specific topics or keywords in all of my posts – for example, posts about iPad on my Ingeniøren blog as shown in the picture below – and use this when writing a new post or for forwarding links to my blog posts to others.

The posts are imported manually using Evernote Clearly which strips away anything but text, links and pictures from websites which is exactly what I need for searching in the posts. Ideally, new blog posts would be imported into Evernote automatically, but I haven’t come up with a system for achieving this yet.

Archiving Online Articles, Blog Posts and News Stories

I read a lot of stuff online, including articles, blog posts and news stories, much of which originates from my RSS feeds. I have for a long time felt like archiving this reading in a structured way so that I can refer back to it at a later point, without implementing a bulky system that would require a lot of extra effort.

I read several good reviews of Pinboard, a social bookmarking service, and I considered strongly to start using it as a hub for all my links. However, I was a little reluctant to start using yet another service, and when I read this idea of using Evernote as a storage place for all the online reading, it immediately appealed to me; as discussed in the previous sections, I already store digital content, that I want to be able to search and get an overview of quickly, in Evernote.

I have therefore dedicated an Evernote stack of notebooks to save much of my online reading. So far I have a few different notebooks where different types of reading go into, but I haven’t settled on how I want to structure all of this; a large number of notebooks, possibly supplemented with tags, might be an option, but with the efficient built-in search function a small number of notebooks might also suffice.

When I read in a browser on a computer and want to archive this reading, I can use Clearly as for my blog posts; this produces a text- and picture-only version of what I read which is ideal for searching and finding it at a later point.

On my iPhone or iPad, I often read in Pocket that readily produces a text- and picture-only version – that can be sent to Evernote from within the app. It is possible to automate the tagging in Pocket and sending to Evernote using this IFTTT recipe, but this only sends the title, link and excerpt to Evernote and not the full text, and I therefore do it manually. If I don’t read in Pocket, but for example in Feedly, I send the link to Pocket and then from there on to Evernote. There are many ways of sending links to Evernote, but not many where the entire text is included, and since I would like to have full-text search, this is a requirement for me. But when not reading in Pocket the procedure is a little bit tedious, and I would like to come up with something more automatic.

This system might evolve over time, and I might even decide to turn to Pinboard at a later point, but for now I’m happy to rely on Evernote for archiving and structuring all my online reading.

A Million Uses of Evernote – What Are Yours?

The above were a few of my uses of Evernote, and I constantly add more to structure and archive data and information that I need, for work or privately. Therefore, I encourage you to get started using Evernote right away – or to share how you use it in the comments below.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *