Second-brain software

December 3, 2006

One thing I can do as Director of EEB is pass on little morsels of goodness. Nuggets of knowledge. Brain bupkis. I will try to get into the habit of sending one of these a week. They will accumulate on the “resources” page of the EEB website.

In today’s entry, James Fallows reviews a variety of software, PC and Mac, that allow you to store, organize, and, most importantly, retrieve information in the form of emails, notes to yourself, and all those PDF files you downloaded. Some of these programs use AI that learning how you make associations. All the better to collect in one place everything on your computer that has anything to do with, say, the “Stoichiometry of Zn in ants”. An amazingly useful thing when you are writing a Discussion and need to figure out why ant populations appear to track gradients of Zn in the field.

Just as an example, of course.

As we all labor under a growing information glut, such software will, I suspect become part of every scientist’s toolkit.

For you Mac users, I can vouch for Devon Think Pro as an absolute godsend. These folks have just brought out Devon Think Office–which adds smart mail archiving, optical character recognition (to turn all those old JSTOR files into searchable text) and an ability to network with other such databases (communal mind, anyone?).

Finally, a small victory as that pile of reprints grows higher, and higher, and….