Text Patterns - by Alan Jacobs

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

one app to rule them all

I’m with Steven Frank on this:

For years I’ve had this bordering on Howard Hughesian vision that one day I would have a giant, private, wiki-like document that had a page containing everything I knew about anything.

It would be complete, readable, editable, and searchable from whichever device I happened to have on me, from desktop computer, to laptop, to iPhone, even if I wasn’t connected to the net.

It would support basic text formatting (bold, italic, bulleted list) and let me plop images into the page and position them.

So far, this has proven to be mostly impossible. There are all manner of technologies that do bits and pieces of this, but no way I’ve yet thought of to combine them fluidly. (And believe me, I spend a lot of time thinking about this. So there’s no need to email about TiddlyWiki or Evernote because I’ve already been down that road.)

I think what I want is an instant-on Newton-like device in the Kindle form-factor but with a stylus and it only runs OneNote (but better than OneNote) and is also my iPhone. Or something like that. Yeah. That sounds about right.

That’ll be the day.

7 comments:

  • It sounds to me like the author is describing a wiki. There are dozens of free wiki platforms out there; some of them can be configured to run both offline and on.

    By the way, the mystery application describes here reminds me of HyperCard (which was, admittedly, an offline application).

  • Dave, he does say that he tried TiddlyWiki and that's not what he wants. It doesn't allow you to insert and position images within the body of a text, for instance

  • I would say that what he's looking for is Vannevar Bush's memex.

  • Something like the Tower of Babel?

  • Odd.

    I'd much rather have an easily accessible source of information I didn't already know.

    A big dump of information I already know seems redundant. My brain already stores it all and has pretty good search facilities.

  • Alan Jacobs said...

    sidereal, you should consider yourself blessed. My cranial storage is both limited and unreliable, and searching is a crapshoot.

  • For a moment in my mind's eye I had the image of scrapbook crossed with a with a mind map...or an old fashioned newspaper layout with photos and columns that just get filled up, page after page.

    "A big dump of information I already know seems redundant. My brain already stores it all and has pretty good search facilities."

    But it may not always be so and I guess it'd be nice to think that your offspring might find it interesting or amusing - would it be like being able to download the contents of your head and free up some space? :) Maybe this is what some blogs already are?

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