Review: Evernote Clearly

New York Times Arti­cle: “War of 1812 Bicen­ten­ni­al Dis­or­ga­nized in New York State”

Today, in addi­tion to enjoy­ing Thanks­giv­ing, I have been tak­ing the time to look at Ever­note Clear­ly, a brows­er plug-in for the Google Chrome brows­er that com­petes with Read­abil­i­tyInstapa­per, Rea­d­It­Later, and the Safari Read­ing List.

As an exam­ple, I took a cur­rent arti­cle from the New York Times, “War of 1812 Bicen­ten­ni­al Dis­or­ga­nized in New York State,” clicked the Ever­note clear­ly icon, and saw it trans­formed from the clut­tered expe­ri­ence with adver­tise­ments above and to the right of the con­tent, into a clean, crisp view of the con­tent I was inter­est­ed in. The dis­play of Clear­ly is stun­ning, in fact. With­in the same tab that was active when you made the request, the Clear­ly inter­face slides over the con­tent. As a read­er, you can choose from a sepia toned “Newsprint” view of the text (shown below), a mod­ern black-and-white pre­sen­ta­tion (called “Notable”), or a “Nightowl” ver­sion that is white text on a black back­ground and would dis­play well in the dark. These pre­sen­ta­tions are sim­i­lar to what is avail­able in the oth­er offer­ings in the sim­pli­fied read­ing inter­face space.

Ever­note Clear­ly “Newsprint” Dis­play of “War of 1812 Bicen­ten­ni­al Dis­or­ga­nized in New York State”

But the real attrac­tion, for users of Ever­note, is the lit­tle Ever­note icon, on the right side of the Clear­ly inter­face. Click this ele­phant icon, and the con­tent is sent to Ever­note for longer term stor­age, search, and avail­abil­i­ty.

As a long time user of Ever­note, one of my pet peeves has been the dif­fi­cul­ty of get­ting a read­able clip­ping of a sub­set of a com­plex page, such as what the Times presents. His­tor­i­cal­ly, you had to either clip the whole page, and live with the clut­ter (and the search­able text such as the “First Fed­er­al” add above show­ing up in your search results for Fed­er­al records), or to man­u­al­ly try to select the cor­rect sub­set of con­tent. This was a dodgy propo­si­tion, with results that vary every time, and some­times one has to try a cou­ple of times, or man­u­al­ly edit the Ever­note clip­ping to get it to read well.

One no longer has to do any off that when using Ever­note Clear­ly. A sin­gle clip on the Ever­note ele­phant icon on the right hand rib­bon, and a clean ver­sion of the con­tent is sent to your Ever­note con­tent set in the cloud. Sync­ing your desk­top or mobile Ever­note client soft­ware, brings the con­tent down. The fin­ished prod­uct looks like the image below. In typ­i­cal fash­ion, Ever­note has auto­mat­i­cal­ly cre­at­ed a title from the page title, and added time­stamps for cre­ation and update. Addi­tion­al­ly, it has added the orig­i­nal URL as a click­able field, put it into the catch all fold­er (in my case, “Ever­note”) and done a rea­son­able job of con­tent pre­sen­ta­tion. So far so good.

But what else would an Ever­note user (who is still using Rea­d­It­Later and start­ing to exper­i­ment with Read­abil­i­ty) need to ditch the oth­er prod­ucts, and do all of this in Ever­note with Ever­note Clear­ly.

  • Pre­sen­ta­tion. The com­pe­ti­tion for this ser­vice real­ly own the “read­ing list” pre­sen­ta­tion. Ever­note touts itself as a “shoe­box for the mind” or a “shoe­box for the Inter­net”, and it can feel as clut­tered as a shoe­box full of clip­pings. Obvi­ous­ly, the mul­ti-faceted search and orga­ni­za­tion capa­bil­i­ties mean you can find things. But, if I’m on a cell phone or a tablet, I might want to just see the arti­cles I saved to read lat­er. A sim­ple tag or fold­er could gath­er this, and the mobile apps could sur­face up a but­ton to nav­i­gate right to this con­tent.
  • Orga­ni­za­tion. It would be nice to have an abil­i­ty to con­fig­ure a spe­cif­ic folder­ing or tag­ging scheme for con­tent com­ing in from Ever­note Clear­ly. This is sep­a­rate from the pre­sen­ta­tion issue above, and is more of an issue for long-term cat­a­logu­ing and orga­ni­za­tion of clipped sto­ries.
  • Cross-brows­er sup­port. Some of us use sev­er­al browsers. I reg­u­lar­ly use Chrome, Safari, and Fire­fox, and some­times use Inter­net Explor­er, Flock, and Opera. I need to be able to do this from any brows­er. Hope­ful­ly, the tech­nol­o­gy involved was stan­dards-based, and will be portable to oth­er browsers as they become more com­pli­ant.
If I get some of those fea­tures, even the gor­geous Read­abil­i­ty prod­uct will have a hard time com­plet­ing with the sim­plic­i­ty of using a sin­gle prod­uct.
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