In an interview with Ingrid Lunden of TechCrunch in London last month, CEO Phil Libin Discussed Evernote’s future plans. His comments focused on two areas: the “quantified self” (personal memories or life data) and eBooks:
Evernote is already in the business of saving personal notes, so the quantified self doesn’t seem like a big announcement. I was more interested in his descriptions of saving (and sharing) personal memories and in the connection he made to eBooks:
[Libin:] We do all sorts of stuff around the Kindle Fire and apps. As for reading, I think books are like food. Memories are formed while reading books, articles and periodicals, and that is not being adequately represented and captured at this point. I’d love to do something around that. I don’t want Evernote to become the place where you store media, but I do want it to be the place where you capture memories, annotations.
That’s especially important with ebooks. When you are done reading an ebook you cannot put it on your shelf. So your memory of the ebook fades. At least seeing the physical book keeps it fresher, but if it’s just on the ipad or kindle you don’t have that same kind of serendipitous discovery. We are trying to provide that, and it would be very cool. We have specific plans and ideas in this area. Reading is one of those areas where Evernote could be helpful.
The emphasis is mine.
I liked the association he made between memories and reading, and I wonder what “specific plans” for eBooks Evernote has in store. I don’t think it’s a coïncidence that he mentioned Kindle Fire.
It’s also refreshing to hear from someone who understands the fundamental conflict of interest between protection of user privacy and services that are free with advertising. Allowing sharing while “staying out of social” is another argument in favor of Evernote, although I wonder if they’ll end up with enough paying subscribers to make it in the long-term. According to Techcrunch, they’re in a financially good situation with 1 million paying subscribers already.
Also, since reading is inherently an individual activity, not a social one, Evernote seems like a good fit.
I spend most of my (precious little) free time reading and writing, and I frequently find a need to reference something I didn’t think to save. Since Internet search is a joke, many times it’s simply impossible to find the reference again once it’s gone. I’ve tried several solutions, but none of them are really good because I read everywhere, and there aren’t many solutions that work easily across devices.
One of the best options I’ve tried so far is a private WordPress blog. The PressThis bookmarklet is relatively fast and easy, and I can post by email from my mobile devices so it’s quite versatile. The biggest issue is finding the links again once I’ve saved them.
Instapaper is another useful tool. Subscription prices are reasonable and full text search is available to subscribers. That would be reason enough to subscribe for $12/year if it weren’t for the fact that articles from many popular sites won’t sync, and sometimes won’t display at all, even in online mode. That happens sometimes, for example if the link changes or if a shortened URL won’t resolve. In that case, I’ll find out sometime later that the link isn’t working, but there won’t be a title or keywords to tell me what it was, except perhaps a broken URL, which doesn’t usually help much and would be a pain to track down anyway.
If “capturing memories formed while reading books, articles and periodicals” covers a solution to these troubles in addition to saving notes or annotations, then it could be interesting.
On the other hand, if Evernote wants me to trust them with my important memories, then they’ll have to work a little harder. I do most of my writing in Evernote, because WordPress has an annoying habit of logging me out while I’m editing (even though I have asked to keep me logged in). As a result, I’ve lost hours of editing. So almost all of my posts here have passed through Evernote at some point, and some of them have been written in part on three different devices. Evernote is usually much safer than editing directly in WordPress, and I’ve only rarely lost much work. Last week however, I lost an entire finished version of my post about the TouchFire before I was able to copy/paste it into WordPress. The error happened somehow in the sync operation because I didn’t realize I was working offline. Losing an hour and a half of work was annoying and is unacceptable, but losing really important personal memories would be disastrous. NB: I am not an Evernote subscriber.
The other thing Evernote needs on every platform is an UNDO feature. That alone would have saved almost all the rest of the writing I’ve lost.
In any case, it’ll be interesting to see what they have in store for eBook readers.