Methinks you presume too much. Did you check the prices of the examples you noted, and the level of hardware required to do heavy hitter operations? The combined price of DEVONthink and DEVONagent is US $60, and they run very quickly on my 3-year-old 500 MHz Mac TiBook. ;D
I’ve been intrigued by neural networks for many years. Having picked up a good many graduate hours in mathematical logic and having served as project director of an information mining and transfer center that used one of the (at the time) fastest mainframes in the US, I’m very optimistic about where computer technology is taking us.
Christian characterized DEVONthink’s classification and “See Also” capabilities as “really very stupid.” I agree, but still find DEVONthink’s contextual recognition capabilities very useful.
In fact, even the best computerized neural network software is “really very stupid” compared to the neural networks in the brain of a human who knows what he’s doing. But computers are useful tools because they can scan enormous amounts of data quickly, and they are interactive with humans – which is to say, if you don’t like the results of a search, modify it and run it again.
DEVONagent has enabled me to run some very sophisticated and useful Web searches. The supplied plugins and crawlers are pretty good, users can devise their own, and the Boolean search query tools are first-rate. Web pages are automatically summarized, further searching and regrouping of ‘hits’ is easy, and any or all hits can be dumped into the DEVONthink database if desired.
Yes, the user does have to be familiar with the technical jargon of a discipline to design searches properly – but if you don’t know the jargon, you can’t understand the literature, anyway.
As for DEVONthink, I continue to be surprised by some of the things it’s “really stupid” capabilities can do for me.
I’ve got thousands of technical references in my DEVONthink database, dealing with topics including environmental engineering, genomics, toxicology and so forth. Individual items range from a paragraph or so in length (such as abstracts) to hundreds of pages.
When I’m doing research on a topic, I can very quickly narrow down the items most likely to be useful. DEVONthink’s Similar Spelling and Similar Context buttons often provide very useful information (even if they’re not very smart!). Likewise, the See Also button often provides insights to relationships that I might not have thought of – as well, granted, as suggestions that I can easily ignore, because they’re dumb.
In sum, if I’m profoundly ignorant about a topic, DEVONthink and DEVONagent won’t enable me to produce solid literature research on the topic. But if I know the topic pretty well, they are really useful tools. I don’t know of any other software, on any platform, at any price, that would give me the document storage and retrieval flexibility of DEVONthink, yet run well on a laptop – except for forthcoming versions of DEVONthink and DEVONagent. (Did I mention the compactness of the database, or the range of file types than can be accomodated?)
Recommendation: try them for a while. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised.
[Christian, since I’m being so nice, how about adding DEVONagent’s (Near,x) Boolean operator to DEVONthink’s search operators?] ;D