Essay on DT in the New York Times Sunday Book Review

Author Steven Johnson’s essay on “Tool for Thought” refers to a new category of software that aims “to do for your personal information what Google has done for the Internet.” He then explicitly calls out DEVONthink, and spends the rest of the article explaining how he uses “the tool” to help him write, finding new associations among old articles and research.

From the essay:

Anybody here recognize what software program he’s using? :wink:

Congrats to the DEVONians on this high-profile media notice. 8)


Many thanks for posting this. I read the essay with pleasure, recognizing that Johnson feels much the same way about DEVONthink that I do – it’s not just about finding stuff, it’s about exploring and associating ideas – it’s about thinking. Johnson’s mention of Vannevar Bush was apt; I think Bush would have been very pleased with DEVONthink as a “tool for thought.”

Something like Johnson’s description of how he uses DEVONthink should be picked up in the user manual and illistrated in DEVONthink tutorials. In a number of postings on this forum I’ve raved about how useful the “See Also” button is, but I didn’t describe its use as simply and clearly as Johnson.

Using DEVONthink in this way can be, literally, a revelation – finding new associations between information and ideas.

Eric and Christian, try to get a testimonial from Johnson. And get permission from the NY Times to post a copy of the essay on your site (not just a link, which will require payment to view the article within a few weeks).

If I didn’t already have DEVONthink, I’d buy it immediately after reading Johnson’s essay. :slight_smile:

Johnson has also published a blog entry on DT, that’s more explicitly a tutorial on the use of DT for writers. It’s also even more laudatory than the NYT article (“finally, I have a Memex!”). Thanks to DT Forum member nf0 for spotting this:

Johnson’s two articles have already engenered futher exploration of DT. See, for example, the Google group that’s associated with the 43Folders site:

As a sidenote: this thread makes for interesting reading. At least some users acquire DT specifically for its association-spawning ‘AI’ features, yet give up on the software, either unable to successfully access or use these features.


Got an email reply from Steven Johnson in which he noted that as of yesterday he had already received dozens of responses about the essay, even though it’s not officially published until today’s edition.

His blog on how he uses DT is a good little tutorial.

I think he likes DEVONthink. :slight_smile:

Mind blower! I just did a Google search for “devonthink johnson.” Got 193 hits (probably more if I waited 10 minutes and did it again).

So Johnson’s essay has generated lots of chatter about DEVONthink.

But the vast majority of these hits are about other things, not about Steven Johnson’s article … …

True. I didn’t do an ‘expert’ Google sesrch to narrow it.

But I counted 13 references to Steven Johnson’s essay (and another 12 in second-level links that hadn’t been picked up by Google) – that’s a good deal of chatter in s very short time. The first 10 ‘hits’ were linked to the essay or to comments about it.

Try the same search in another 24 hours.