A few thoughts on Evernote

The first event in our “Digital Tools Bootcamp” series was a success.
I was really pleased that I was able to share Evernote with people who
hadn’t already been introduced to it. Evernote, for those of you that
don’t know, is a cloud-based  data organizing program. For the free
version there is a monthly upload limit, but I don’t think I have ever
come close to reaching it. You have to be connected to the internet to
use it, but you can upgrade to the pay version if you plan on needing
it offline.

The organizing principle of Evernote is “notes” (text, images, pdfs,
audio) and you organized into “notebooks” (Anthro class, Haiti
research, wedding planning). These can organized further into
“notebook stacks” (school, event planning, teaching and research).
Right now I use it mostly for keeping track of all my class notes and
readings, as well as all the events and projects I am working on. The
whole database and as well as individual notebooks are searchable, and
you can also use tags to label individual notes and search them that
way as well.

One of the coolest and most innovative features of Evernote, in my
opinion, is the seamless way a “web clipper” integrates into my
browser (I use Chrome). When I am doing research, looking at recipes,
or whatever, and I find something that I want to save and keep for
later, I can click the Evernote add-on in my browser and a little
window pops up, allowing me to select either a selection, the article,
or the entire full page the website, and decide which notebook I want
to store it in. Then the webpage is stored in my Evernote account.
Even if the original website is removed, the clipping in my account
will remain.

I hope you get a chance to explore Evernote and decide if it is a
useful tool for you. I know it has made a big difference in the way I
organize my notes and my research.

Transcriva Review

I’ve been getting increasingly interested in oral history over the past few years, and I recently discovered a program that makes working with oral histories SO MUCH EASIER! It’s called Transcriva. I’m amazed that I ever tried to use any other system for listening to and transcribing, annotating, or taking notes on interviews . I was a little wary at first, because it costs $30.00, but they let you play around with the very limited free version and I decided to spring for it because I was so frustrated with the inadequacies of the  system I was using before (word processor + itunes = no fun). I’m very glad I did. Disclaimer: I think it might only be available for Macs.

click on the image to enlarge

It’s not a complicated program, so I was able to start using it quickly. To begin with, you link the transcript file to a audio file on your computer or hard drive (or online, but I haven’t tried that yet). Then you can assign different speakers, who each have their own shortcut keys to facilitate switching between speakers. You make new entries in the transcript by pressing “enter” or by using a new speakers’ shortcut key. There is also short cut keys to move backward or forward or to pause the audio. You can slow down or speed up the listening speed. And then, once you have transcribed or annotated your stuff, you can easily jump to different points in the interview in both the audio or the text. Over all it just streamlines the whole process and makes it much quicker, more intuitive and more manageable. I don’t dread transcription as much as I used to. It’s even kind of fun now.

There are other features I haven’t taken advantage of yet. Apparently you can record audio files directly into Transcriva, and you can link your transcripts to online content as well. You can also export the transcripts as text files, perserving the speakers and the timestamps of your notes.

In sum, if you are working with audio files or interviews for your research  I would strongly suggest you check out Transcriva!