Web Research—The Challenge of Storing and Organizing Everything You Find
Storing and organizing web research and other important bits of information can be quite challenging, and that’s partly why we created NoteBook. I wrote the original NoteBook app on the NeXT Computer, before the World Wide Web was created. But even back then we could see how computer networks would become fire hoses of information, and how users would need a tool to help them collect information and find it again later.
There were three essential features that emerged from our thoughts about how to design such an app. The first was a “notebook” interface of pages and dividers. We recognized that to deal with lots of information you would need a scalable solution for storing it all, and ideally one that was so familiar it would naturally fit into how you might organize information in the physical world.
The second was “clipping,” to make it easy to save text and other selections quickly, and without leaving the app you’re working in. Lots of apps support clipping today, but a still-unique and crucial feature of NoteBook is how you can turn any number of pages into clipping destinations. Imagine you’re a lawyer working on three different cases, and you’re researching rulings and court decisions to support those cases. Your typical note taking app lets you clip, but it stores all of your clippings in one place. That means after you’ve spent hours clipping information related to those three cases, you have to next sort through all your clippings and try to remember which clipping went with which case. With NoteBook, you just create a page for each of your cases and clip your findings directly to the appropriate page.
And the third feature was the Multidex, to make it easy find things quickly. We recognized that for any given snippet of information, certain attributes of that snippet stand out in our brains. You might recall that the snippet you’re looking for included the name of a famous athlete, or that it contained a part number that began with “1021-”, or that you clipped it just before leaving work last Friday. With the Multidex you can easily find this snippet using any of these or other recollections, and all with just a few clicks.
These feature ideas and more resulted in NoteBook, and the decades have validated our original insights. They are part of the reason NoteBook for Mac and NoteBook for iPad are such unique and powerful apps for storing and organizing everything you find.