A Short Note about Short Notes (to Self)

Wednesday morning Katrina, Michael, Greg and I presented our paper, “Note to Self: Examining Personal Information Keeping in a  Lightweight Note-Taking Tool”, to a packed room at noon in the “Personal and Public Information” track at CHI2009 .   This paper describes our first study that we conducted with our List.it note taking tool in September 2007.  Michael and Katrina filmed a quick “teaser” (no sound) which summarizes our talk in 25 seconds below.

We received lots of positive feedback after the talk, and received a number of questions and suggestions.  We wished to briefly re-address them here in case others were also wondering:

  • Can I try it? Yes, find it here: List.it – a Quick note taking tool for Firefox
  • Is the source code available?  Yes, via our List.it Google Code Respository
  • Can I use it to run my own study on note taking?  Yes, that’s a major reason why we’re releasing the source under an MIT license.   We have not yet released our server code because it’s being cleaned up and refactored; expect this soon.
  • Are you releasing a notes corpus to the public for PIM research use?  We hope to, eventually. We believe that a corpus of notes-to-self will help us to develop smarter tools.  But, we are currently trying to figure out how to help users who volunteer to share their notes to easily scrub note contents to prevent the release of sensitive info, and yet to retain enough of the original characteristics of the notes so as to be useful for research.  We will keep you updated.
  • Are there plans to produce a mobile (iPhone/Android/Symbian) version? Yes. We have one new student who has joined the project to build a mobile list.it.  In the meantime we recommend the following alternatives: Evernote for iPhone and AK Notepad for Android.
  • Are you planning on adding feature X?  Please see our Google code Feature Request List.

Once again, we are looking for contributors who are interested in making list.it more useful and have some coding experience. Also we are always looking for your comments, opinions and insight about features that would make list.it more useful.  Join our Google Group if you are interested in contributing your insight and/or code.

6 Responses to “A Short Note about Short Notes (to Self)”

  • Sharon Greenfield says:

    This sounds super, super cool! Nice work you guys.
    I’d love to see this tool be used in studying linguistics, and if//what/how parts of language are changing due to our new communication mediums, such as Evernote, Twitter, etc.
    Although, yeah, it does remind me of Evernote which I have installed on my 3 Macs, my 1 PC, and my iPhone. :)

  • I would like this tool during my distance learning course. At this time I use oldscool postips :-)

  • When I consider lists, I think of To Do lists, calendared lists, project lists, and checklists. None of the tools I’ve tried have been really satisfactory for any of these tasks. I have some hope for List-It because there are resources intending to improve it, it’s open source, and people are studying how it’s used.

    This would get more interesting for To Do purposes if it had a convenient way to check off items without making them disappear entirely.

    It would get more interesting for calendar items if there were a way to indicate a time for an item and perhaps auto-install it into a calendar system such as Google Calendar.

    It would be more interesting for project use if items could be tagged with a project name and perhaps interoperated with some Getting Things Done applications.

    It would be more interesting for Checklist use if one could have, and share, checklists that were easy to copy into an active list and conveniently check off as the items got done.

    It would be incredibly more interesting if it were carefully arranged to accommodate human needs, as described in “The Humane Interface”. See the author’s short summary of rules and principles from the book on my website shown above.

    It would be easier to understand if several, or many, examples of lists were available early on in the course of checking to see if this software is worth studying or adopting. Each example might include various notes explaining the point of that list.

    I wish there were a Start Here video beyond the 23 second one I just saw via this site.

    And thanks for trying to help us all.


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  • Jerry says:

    Needs user scripting, perhaps using an embedded LISP, or sigh, maybe Python. This scripting should work across platforms, meaning on Chrome and Android, and even Firefox.

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