4 Buckets

At some point I realized that there was no one place all my notes could live. Indeed, one of the things that regularly killed any “one system (or app) to rule them all” that I tried was it got bogged down with too many notes. This made me realize that all I want from a GUI-notetaking system, which is currently Craft, is an interface that lets me track the somewhat-larger-than-it-should-be collection of notes that reflects my attempts to tackle too much both cognitively and practically. (This is an admission of ineffectiveness and lack of discipline.)

So, the best way to manage a GUI-notetaking system is to limit it to current projects, works-in-progress, lists-wanting-to-be-something-more, and the like. Once something is done, it needs to go some place else. I know this runs counter to the archival mindset that revels in the every-text-at-your-fingertips of NValt-like apps. These are great: they are not just for me.

In a moment of clarity, or what seemed like one after a week and a half of a head cold, I wrote down a list of text buckets I currently maintain and which seem to be working as such:

  • public notes live here on jl.net
  • public documents live in a portfolio on GitHub
  • working notes live in Craft
  • private notes live in a directory on my computer synced via iCloud

This means all notes are available on the two devices I own, my computer and my phone, and also via web interfaces on devices I do not own. (Craft’s web interface has come a long way, and it is perfectly serviceable to my mind.)

It has taken me a long time to arrive at this moment, and I still have a long way to go in herding documents created in other applications into plain text and then into their proper silo, most of which are conference papers. (And then there’s all the PDF versions of offprints of hard-to-find essays that I would like to be available to anyone interested in them.)


Part of journey is getting notes out of other applications. If like me you spent some time with Evernote, then perhaps you have an enex file or two lying around and you are wondering what to do about it. As luck would have it, Doug Diego has created a Python script which will transform your enex file into a directory of markdown files: dougdiego/ever2simple: Migrate from evernote to simplenote with markdown formatting.

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