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Apps and the art of research

Evernote is a phone/computer research app

Phone apps are a useful addition to the research toolkit

I’m a fairly recent Mac/iPhone convert (although I did have a Mac during my uni days but went PC after that) and when I made the switch many friends and colleagues were keen to share their tips on their favourite apps. One app that was mentioned by many was Evernote, and after nearly two years I have to agree that it’s a very useful tool for writing and research.

Evernote lets you take notes in a variety of forms — photo, audio, written, clipping from the web or a screenshot. Notes can be stored on your computer, the phone or online and synced so that you can take a note in one place, such as your phone, and then sync so that it’s on your computer or online. I even use it to take photos when I’m out shopping and need to remember something or to remember a bottle of wine I’ve enjoyed at a restaurant.

As a writer, a big part of the job is researching and that usually means moving around between home computer, laptop, work/office computer or iPhone/iPad. I can use note taking apps like Evernote to capture an idea, an image from a book at a library or things I have online that I want to read/print or store for another time.

Now I guess this sounds like one big advertisement for Evernote. But it’s just one example of a useful internet-based tool that makes researching easier and more enjoyable. I spend a great deal of time with my iPhone for reading and surfing the net, so it’s good to know I can store stuff easily.

I’ve also seen a few apps that supposedly help you writing a novel. They have several different basic plot lines, help with dialogue, character creation and other narrative devices. The purists would probably stab their eyes out with a fountain pen than use an app, but I’m intrigued. I suspect you get a story that sounds like it’s been written by ‘join the dots’ but we’ll see if/when the first app-devised story wins a prize.



3 thoughts on “Apps and the art of research

  1. Great post. If I had an iPhone or an iPad, I’d totally get that app. But as I’m a luddite, it’s wasted on me!

    Posted by Life In A Pink Fibro | 14 February 2011, 7:38 pm
    • Hello Pink Fibro, great to see you at PaleInk. The nice thing about the apps is that they’re quite easy to use and the iTunes/iPhone/Mac/iPad system makes it very simple and isn’t consuming or complicated to get running.

      Posted by paleink | 15 February 2011, 9:35 am
  2. Thanks for the tip. As a teacher I could use this for students to create a log about writing. The one thing students don’t realize is the enormous research time spent by writers on context, characterizations, setting etc. I guess you could make a groovy multimedia text using Evernote as the platform to launch the narrative.

    Posted by Brad | 15 February 2011, 7:22 pm

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