Liberal Studies This Week

Sharing your experience as an online student

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Friday Fun - cat humor

Yes, yes, Internet cat humor is trite but this one features a cat that looks just like mine. Moreso, my cat's meow sounds a lot like this cat's 'mouse.'


So about Evernote, it is a place on the web to save notes. That's it, nothing more. You can save documents, images, voice memos, emails. You can select text from a webpage and save it or you can archive the entire webpage for future use. You can add labels to each note to help you with future searches. You can create notebooks to help you organize notes around a central purpose.

To help you, Evernote provides a number of tools. You can log-in to their webpage to organize and access your notes or you can download their software so you can open the client on your desktop - this allows you to drag-and-drop files as you organize them into notebooks. You can download webclippers so that you can save webpages from Internet Explorer, Safari, Firefox, or Chrome. You can use an Evernote client on your smartphone. There is even a growing list of software and hardware options that interface directly with Evernote - Wacom tablet EyeFi photo cards, Lexmark scanners, etc.

So how is this useful? However you make it useful.

Some of their examples include a library of business cards in photo form, the details of your vacation planning, the research you do for making major purchases, a record of your favorite restaurant menus. Its use is totally dependent upon your imagination and needs. I have notebooks to archive webpages which may "inspire" future design projects I might develop, recipes that people recommend, movie reviews.

A free account has a few limitations and includes a banner ad but it is fine for most needs. If you end up becoming a power user, it costs just $45 a year.

Andy thinks too much about technology.

When I was an art major I learned about the concept of negative space. The space around your figure can be as important or more important than the figures themselves. If you’ve never heard of this, consider this simple example.

It’s only recently that I began to consider software and product design in terms of negative space. I’ve always been one to want to know something’s purpose. What’s it for? Tell me about the features? It never occurred to me that a brilliant design might mean leaving questions like these unanswered. By not telling a user a product’s purpose, a designer allows each user to identify its purpose so that unknown potential might be explored. So a product’s purpose need not be limited to its form but can be defined by space in which it exists.

Consider Twitter: what is it? A social network? A marketing tool? A forum for ritual communication? A search engine? A news aggregator? A tool of social justice and democracy? A creative writing medium perfectly suited to metafiction?

Yes, it’s all of these things but not because the creators told us so. They created a simple tool for micro-blogging which people didn’t seem to understand at first. The website was sparse with not a lot of guidance and very limited functionality. The buzz was that users should tell readers what they were doing from moment to moment but this was just what the tech-geeks wrote on their blogs. In practice, it was playground without any rules and it was in this lack of a singular purpose, which may have reduced Twitter to a fad, that so many varied purposes evolved.

I started writing this to introduce why I was recommending Evernote but I’ll leave this to the next post.