A usage question, as I settle into Devonthink and start to work it in earnest: Steve Johnson’s recent New York Times essay argues that the best use of Devonpower is to create notes of 50-500 words-- lots of discrete entities. Having had some experience with sprawling entries in information management applications, I tend to agree with this, in principle.
When I actually tried to divide a long scholarly paper into short, separate entries, I found myself wondering – how do I manage it in the database? Do I create a little group, representing the entire paper? Do I link the entries to one another? Either option seems an onerous step. Then, too, dividing a paper, though often easy enough (Intro, hypothesis, methods, results, discussion, refs are natural divisions) is pretty time-consuming, when multiplied by hundreds of papers.
So,my questions for more experienced users are:
–do you drop long articles whole into Devonthink, or do you divide them a la Johnson’s suggestion? If not, how do you avoid sprawling categories: a ``see also’’ for a long note that points out that lots of other long notes are also kinda similar?
–If people do make long pdfs etc into shorter notes, how do you manage the multiple-note beasts that this procedure creates? And how do you do it quickly and efficiently?
Hope this makes sense. If I should be thinking about this differently, I’ll be glad to learn it.
I think this goes to the heart of an issue that has been raised a few times on the forum, the need sometimes to work at a level between the word and the document, in other words with user-defined passages of text. Highlighting and/or linking do not exhaust the possibilities. What would frequently be most useful is the ability to mark/annotate/tag passages within documents and to retrieve across documents, similarily marked/annotated/tagged passages. This kind of functionality is indispensable to journalists and many kinds of researchers. It would, from my point of view, make DT a fully rounded information management system.
Yes, this would be an excellent addition. I ran into the need for this several times yesterday while importing DA search information into DT. Some of the documents had passages that were specifically what I needed but these passages were within a larger context of information that would also be useful to have in my database for other projects, just not for this one. So it would have been great to be able to tag the relevant passage for my current topic while saving the entire document to the DT database.
Exactly! Of course one would also like to be able to find such passages without knowing in advance that they exist. My dream search engine would let me specify how much of the surrounding text I would like to see, in a list of all hits. Ie, I’d say, show me all instances of the word ``cingulate’’ with the preceding and following sentences.’’ Or only the preceding and succeedng 10 words. Or 12 words, or whatever. Of course, it’s always easy to figure out work for other people to do. I have no idea if this sort of feature is feasible.