Switching Apps for Stored Data

GTD Wannabe wrote an excellent post some time back – Can You Commit to One Information Application? Should You?. She currently pours all of her notes and ideas into an EverNote database, and is starting to wonder what happens in the long run, if later versions don’t get updated, or the company goes out of business, or such like. It’s the sort of thing I spend far too much time worrying about.

It’s certainly a good argument for using applications with open file formats, like OpenOffice. GTD Wannabe does make some good points on how much it’s worth worrying about this stuff, though. As much as I’d like to have something settled on that will always be readable, I’ve never really got to that point. The only realy sure thing is plain text, and I’ve never quite been comfortable with using that alone – it’s great for storage, but not so much good as an aid to thinking. I’ve never quite got to the point of trusting the Tablet PC applications, like Journal and OneNote, so I generally stick to paper and pen for the thinking stuff. Combining this with keeping lists of tasks and ideas, and odd bits of reference information has left me with a pocket Filofax, which works nicely for me.

There have only been a couple of occasions since using it where I’ve needed to get to some information that I know I scribbled down, but have now removed and archived, and both times, it’s happened when I’ve been sitting at a desk, with the heap of archived paper next to me. A quick flick through, and I found what I was after just as quickly as a computer based search would have done. If I needed to find things like that more often, I probably wouldn’t be so lucky, but it works well enough for what I need.

In the longer term, although I can be pretty sure my notes will remain readable – I don’t need any specific software to access my bits of paper 😉 – the value of doing so will probably be pretty minimal. How often have you felt the need to find something in some notes you took several years ago?