kbunders
Hi all,

I've been using Personalbrain for many years now. I haven't updated to version 7 yet. I'm in doubt.

A while ago I started using Evernote. First just to scan and store my incoming (snail)mail. Quickly after that, I started using it for my GTD practice (based on http://www.thesecretweapon.org/). My tags in Evernote are: #projects (GTD 10.000ft), $domains (GTD 20.000ft), :roles (GTD 20.000ft), +interests, and @contexts.

Soon I became aware I was in trouble. Now I was using not one trusted system anymore, but two! The biggest overlap between my EN and PB is due to my +interests tag. I'm now using EN apps like Clearly and Clip to Evernote in my Chrome browser to quickly add stuff of my interest (something I did in my brain before with lots of manual labour). On my iphone I use the Captio app to quickly add any thoughts into my Action pending notebook in EN via email.

Anyway, I'd like to go back to one trusted system. I see 3 possibilities:
1. something magical happens EN and PB team up and merge their functionalities
2. I quit PB (and hope for EN-like improvements), or
3. I quit EN (and hope for PB-like improvements)

Honestly I don't believe option 1 will ever happen, but it would be my dream scenario.

There are many things I like and dislike about both PB and EN. My biggest concerns about PB are the slow pace of software development (example: why does this feature 'Email a thought or a test into my Brain' take multiple years (!) to implement), and the closed character of thebrain developement (I would love to see a trunk of 3rd party mobile / desktop apps for thebrain, like Evernote has).

Maybe I should upgrade to version 7 and hope for the best (option 3 above). I don't know. I see Evernote is having a lot more momentum due to its fast and open development... 

Anyway, what do you all think about this? Any thoughts?

Cheers,

Koen


Windows 10 | Beta testing TheBrain 9.1.15.0
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Spacenexus
Koen

Interesting experience you have with evernote. I use it too, but only as a temporary bin for then transferring to TB.

My advice before deciding on your system is to first take a step back. The issue is less about the tools and more about what you are trying to achieve. I would say that 'information thermodynamics' (for want of a better phrase) needs to be considered; let me explain my line of thought.

There is a conservation between the energy (time, effort) of information entry and corresponding information retrieval. On the entry side, your evernote tools with the excellent addon apps allow for efficient information entry into your evernote system, following your information discovery. The information retrieval challenge then becomes one of being search term related rather than context related. This can be offset in linear systems initially by extra tagging but ultimately it is still linearly limited. Eventually you would have to build a complex search query in order to do what would be a single thought activation in TheBrain. So the first point is that linear systems appear attractive at first because infromation entry is low energy, but ultimately their information retrieval is high energy and indeed limited.

Where your evernote ecosystem currently surpasses TheBrain's utility is in the information entry. However, the energy invested into ensuring that TheBrain file is diligently nurtured pays off at retrieval. My position is that i value the information retrieval value of TheBrain's dynamic mapping above all else. To that end I have foregone and even retreated from the use of Android / IOS devices with my system and have maintained a single operating system in windows with multiple devices accessing one brain dataset. Resisting the urge to speed up the information capture without the responsibility of associatively mapping that information demands a greater effort and discipline - what you put in is what you get out - but the results are worth it.

The process of entering the information is transient, even if the effort at the time is higher; what lasts is the depth of information integration within your brain file; the next day you forgot that it took 10 minutes of researching around a new article to enter the 8 thoughts and 2 research papers associated with that article. What stands the test of time is that you return to that thought and can engage the system of thoughts around the active thought instantly. This is something that is just not possible in any linear system, irrespective of how much tagging one can do. You can choose when to spend 10 minutes building a thought set. When you retrieve it, you need it all instantly and that is an absolute home-run that TheBrain achieves over any other system available.

The scenario in linear systems is that you can spend 1 minute tagging and linking your 8 articles and 2 papers, but at the point of retrieval, you may spend 10 minutes finding and sorting the information. That is time you need to be reviewing the information, not searching for it. If you've added another 10 items over the subsequent month to the original active thought, you can see how the linear systems can be inadequate. Being a brain user you are already familiar with this concept.

So in many ways, it comes down to personal effort in. You are using evernote and its ecosystem to speed up entry, but that is only widening your retrieval gap and will leave you at a critical disconnect with your information system.

In some ways, TheBrain has become a victim of its own information retrieval success. The plex and the dynamic thought structure are in my view one of the most brilliant innovations in information design. However, the thought and information entry points into the plex have remained manual, direct entry processes, despite the brain database become highly extensible, and the general information load at the close of 2012 being billions of times greater than in 1997 when TheBrain debued.

So:
1) The external world of information has grown in size and speed
2) TheBrain plex and database has been engineered to cope with increasing quantity, interconnectiveness and metadata
3) The speed and method of data input into TheBrain has effectively been frozen in time since 1997

I am the biggest fan of TheBrain and there is nothing like it. Although TheBrain has kept up with the loading of data which was vital, it's fair to say that point 3) now represents the biggest outstanding challenge for the Harlan and the team, both technically and strategically.

Currently they are addressing that challenge with upcoming Android and IOS interfaces to the current architecture which should address the device propinquity needs of many users (I personally use a Sony Vaio P connected with combination of webbrain and logmein tools to maintain a single OS and file structure as my always-on-me data device). In my view, the new mobile interfaces should be a milestone on the road by 2015 to have an open ecosystem for automated information entry into TheBrain. Once the data is entered into the plex, that becomes the domain of TheBrain's IP and design for the thought structure we know and love. However, there is much that can be done with a third party architecture that enables auto-thought creation based upon criteria of thought location, time, tags, thought types, topic, keywords and new auto definition markers, at the time of entry. The IP of TheBrain can remain fully protected and secured by the company; only API access to the thought entry mechanism and querying engine (for correctly placing thought location) need be accessible.

Apologies for expanding off-topic somewhat to longer term solutions, so getting back to your three options:

  1. something magical happens EN and PB team up and merge their functionalities
  2. I quit PB (and hope for EN-like improvements), or
  3. I quit EN (and hope for PB-like improvements)

Option 2 is simply a no-go. 'You'll regret it. Maybe not today, but soon and for the rest of your life' (thanks Bogey).

Option 3 works if you re-establish asymmetry and TheBrain dominance. You don't need to quit evernote and your other tools, just using evernote as a temoporary bin where you then manually re-enter your data into your brain. By now i imagine that a three month 1 hour a day campaign to rebalance that. In one of my posts a few years ago i refer to TheBrain (or PersonalBrain back then) as the conductor for an orchestra of software all working in harmony).

Keep a candle lit for Option 1. By 2015 that could well be in place as access to a third party ecosystem from TheBrain or quite possiblely a completely external script that queries and manages TheBrain as an agent solution without any code modification to TheBrain software itself (think a future version of Activewords or AutoIt with deep language understanding and validation, all easily possible by 2015 if not already). Those new scripts can then bolt into the world of API's for other tools such as evernote etc.

One thing is clear, the further along the road you go with two dominant systems, the worse your dissonance will be. I hope these thoughts help.

Well, it's Christmas Eve and i've got chimneys to climb Happy holidays.

Jim

@170907:
TB8022 32bit
Java 32bit Version 8 Update 141

Firefox, Office 2013 Pro Plus 32bit
64bit Win10Pro
64bit Primary Laptop, 8GB RAM, Intel Core i7
64bit Secondary Laptop, 64GB RAM, Intel Xeon E3
Brain user since zygote
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zenrain
Wow, holy crap that's a great post.

I completely agree. I've been using both in tandem for over 6 months now, and although Evernote is superior to TheBrain in every way for information capture, it doesn't hold a candle to TheBrain when retrieving information.

The results of a search in Evernote are a list of documents and notes which are related to your search and may or may not be the items you are looking for. You then have to go through the results to find the document(s) and unless you merged all the notes and documents in to one master file you have lost most of the context. This is ok for information you captured a week ago. Six months to a year later it's much more difficult to arrange the pieces of the puzzle. 

Compare this to TheBrain where a thought is activated and you have all the documents, contacts, procedures and anything else you took the time to record, presented in a manner that if done correctly when you first created it, provides the whole story and contributing factors to the information you recorded. I have simply never found anything that matches TheBrain in information and context retrieval, which becomes more and more valuable the further away from the date you originally captured the information. ConnectedText and UltraRecall come the closest (and DevonThink for OS X), but those are all document management software, not information management.

My current workflow is the same as SpaceNexus. Evernote is an Inbox where I can capture information that I'll add to TheBrain when I get a bit of time.
macOS 10.13
TheBrain 9.0.250
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kbunders
Thanks guys for your responses. Do you see EN to capture data and PB to transform data into information? Still I really dislike the idea of using two different systems. I hope the mail to brain feature (with similar capture tools like EN has, like Clearly / Clip to Evernote) is implemented soon.

Could you describe your workflow in more detail? When you capture in EN, do you use any tags? When do you decide (what criteria do you use?) to copy to PB? What/how do you copy; a link to EN, or the content? After coping to PB, do you delete it from EN? 

Also, are you guys using a GTD practice? Do you use EN, PB, or something else?

Cheers, Koen
Windows 10 | Beta testing TheBrain 9.1.15.0
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zenrain
Quote:
Do you see EN to capture data and PB to transform data into information?

Exactly. I think of Evernote as a document management system, and TheBrain as information management.

Quote:
I hope the mail to brain feature (with similar capture tools like EN has, like Clearly / Clip to Evernote) is implemented soon.

I agree, this would really really really help my workflow. /sigh

Quote:
Could you describe your workflow in more detail? When you capture in EN, do you use any tags? When do you decide (what criteria do you use?) to copy to PB? What/how do you copy; a link to EN, or the content? After coping to PB, do you delete it from EN? 


For my workflow I have an inbox folder in Evernote and it's my default folder. Everything I capture goes there. Once it's in there I do tag them, add them to TheBrain and then file them in Evernote to either Work or Personal. I use EN for document retrieval from my mobile devices, so until a mobile version of TheBrain is released I rely on Evernote to find documents.
In TheBrain the document or page capture is linked to wherever it needs to be, and I move on. The night and day difference between the information retrieved in searches between Evernote and TheBrain pretty much convinced me that I just need to be patient and wait for a mobile release of TB rather than transfer my information to EN. It's worth it.

I also use Pinboard.in for bookmarks. Same thing. Bookmarks don't get tagged until they've been added to TB. Pinboard.in has this fantastic feature that for an extra fee it will archive the webpage of the bookmark when it's added. That means if the page is removed I have a complete copy of that page available to me. Until move webpage into brain is implemented, this is perfect.

I don't use Evernote or TheBrain for GTD, I use OmniFocus on iOS and OS X. Omnifocus has recurring tasks, nested tasks, and date specific tasks, basically it's made for GTD and I found just the upkeep required for task management in TB (or EN) too time consuming.

I don't include individual tasks in TB, OmniFocus allows me to forward e-mails for capture. I do create projects in TB, and reference them in Omnifocus with the internal ID. You can get the internal ID of a thought by right-clicking and choosing details. 
You can activate a thought using it's internal ID by typing it into instant search and pressing ctrl+enter.

I also have a thought type for active projects, so they are easy to find in a report, or activating that thought type in the plex.

And that's my workflow in a nutshell. Hope that helps. 

macOS 10.13
TheBrain 9.0.250
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nproctor
I agree with this line of comments. I use Evernote to collect webpages, pictures, pdf files... Evernote makes it extremely easy to add content either through email or in program aps (Firefox, Chrome, etc). Evernote also makes it easy to store the files on my iPhone or iPad and search everything even photos with text or pdf files.
I use The Brain when I am getting serious about organizing my thoughts. But I find that The Brain gets left behind and I need to spend a lot of time getting it organized. I REALLY wish Evernote would have the Parent, Child, Jump options for connecting notes. If Evernote added that feature and if The Brain made it possible to communicate with Evernote my life would be easier. Also if both improved their advance search options (more AI) that would be nice.
In the meantime I am just happy to have both of these resources to keep my thoughts organized.
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yuryg
If you have a mac i created a few applescript to actually create pdf's from pages or emails and attach them to the brain.

Check the mac board, they are there. 
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PaddyVA
So,"Life is difficult," (in the words of Scott Peck)!  Why force yourself to make an arbitrary choice?  EN and PB have unique features.  Use them both.

Greater interconnection/ease of connection between the two would be great, as I and others have commented in this Forum.

The greatest enhancement to PB would be to allow adding thoughts more easily from other applications, particularly mobile. Dragging and dropping URL's from a browser to TB on a PC or Mac is easy enough, but it leaves the content outside, unless that is also dragged or copied to the text editor in PB.

It is possible to drag a URL from EN note to PB, but it requires having the EN page open in a browser, and having PB open. It is a slow process, and I usually find not worth the trouble.  OneNote hyperlinks are easier to do, but still usually not worth the trouble.

I use EN as my primary information dump.  I use PB where I want to be able to add connections between pieces of information -- thoughts.  Both have quite fast search, and I don't find that an advanced search is very necessary, although it would be nice to have.

EN has a large advantage because it is available on so many platforms, and has so many others that interface with it.  It just does not do what PB does.

I use a multitude of mobile apps that save articles to EN in some cases, but many more of them save to Pocket, so I have become a user of Pocket second only to EN.  Even when I want to save to EN, I sometimes first save to Pocket, because it is so much faster, and it cuts out all the ads and stuff, and saves the whole article, not just the first page, without the bother of highlighting first.

If you want to learn a lot about how to expand the use and power of EN, then go to http://busyness.com/evernote/ and sign up for the free lectures and downloads of Dr. Brad Semp.  There are all kinds of things that can be done with IFTTT -- https://ifttt.com/wtf -- and other programming systems.  It is possible that these systems could provide some of the desired interconnection between EN and PB, but I haven't gotten that far yet.

Patrick
Quote
yuryg
So for all of you who have a Mac and want to pull notes from Evernote in to the Brain, what are you looking for. Give me some ideas, as Mac has applescript, and Evernote introduced an Applescript dictionary so that I can probably create an applescript to get things from Evernote in to the Brain automatically if that is what people want.

If you have a mac give me some ideas as to what would be your wish, and I will see if I can write some applescripts over the next few weeks to get this working.
Quote
advisors
Me follows

(also looking for integration between brain and evernote).

First thing that is missing is that when you share a note in evernote and then d&d it into TB, it's thought name get's updated with the long url from the evernote link instead of the Note "name".

Automagically getting the note name would help using this as a workaround for the time being.

True integration with evernote (d&d and/or copy&paste at least) would still very much be appreciated.

If TB would support importing/creating new toughs from email (like evernote supports it), I could directly send the links I'm interested in to TB, without using evernote as an intermediate storage (in this specific case).

Then if TB could support "meta data" and integrate (not only) evernote notes as specific items ...
Quote
PaddyVA
In case you haven't discovered it, look at MohioMap:  http://trunk.evernote.com/app/mohiomap/web-apps ; the browser URLs for the various notes in the EN network diagram can be dragged and dropped into TB -- giving a visual graphical representation in both places!  

BTW, has anyone used the "Shooter" in Ecco to add selected info to TB?
Quote
advisors

PaddyVA wrote:
In case you haven't discovered it, look at MohioMap:  http://trunk.evernote.com/app/mohiomap/web-apps ; the browser URLs for the various notes in the EN network diagram can be dragged and dropped into TB -- giving a visual graphical representation in both places!  



Waouh !

 

Isn't that what I was looking for since ... ever ?!?

Tx !

PS:

PaddyVA wrote:
BTW, has anyone used the "Shooter" in Ecco to add selected info to TB?



Seems to me that Ecco (and hence the shooter) works only on Windows ?

I'm on OSX/Mac

Quote
PaddyVA
Yes, as far as I know, Ecco is only for Windows.  The good news for Ecco diehards is that it has been updated with a new installer for 64-bit Windows and Windows 8.  For more: see ECCO PRO still alive   http://www.compusol.org/ecco/index.html .

After all these years, Ecco is still a great PIM, with features not available elsewhere.
Quote
a_d
At the moment, I use both Evernote and TheBrain. For connecting both I use an Autohotkey script. Maybe it helps someone. 


My workflow is the following way:
1. Save Notes in Evernote "Inbox" folder
2. When I have time: Tag notes in Evernote and create a thought in TheBrain
3. Connect the note in evernote with the link function to TheBrain thought
4. Move note to specific Evernote folder

By that you can use Evernote to capture content and connect it by using TheBrain. Also you can browse through your brain, click the link and the note will be opened in Evernote. For me it is quite convenient. 

The optimum of course would be, that the note from evernote would be in sync with the TheBrain note.

For Step 3, I have made an AutoHotkey Script, which generates a child in TheBrain. The name of the child is taken by the current selection. Then it takes the link to the note from Evernote and appends it to the thought in TheBrain and switches back to Evernote. It works quite good, only sometimes the script is faster than my computer and you have to try again.

You have to adapt "Main - TheBrain 7" to your title of the TheBrain window (shown in red)

^#v::        ; Markierung in EN als Brainchild einfügen und Evernote Notiz verlinken Shortcut: WIN+CTRL+V
  if WinActive("ahk_class ENMainFrame")
  {
    WinGetTitle, title, A           ; Holt sich titel des aktuellen Fensters
    Send, ^c                        ; kopiert Text in Zwischenablage
    Sleep, 50
    ;~ MsgBox, %title%
    IfWinExist, Main - TheBrain 7            ; Existiert Brain
    {
      WinActivate                   ; Ja?, dann aktivieren
      Sleep, 500
      Send, {F6}                    ; neuer Childknoten
      Sleep, 100
      Send, ^v                      ;Einfügen
      Sleep, 100
      Send, {Enter}                 ;Bestätigen
      Sleep, 100
      WinActivate, %title%          ;Zurück ins Evernote Fenster
      Sleep, 500
      Send, !ns@brain{Space}{Enter}     ; Füge Tag brain hinzu
      Sleep, 300
      Send, !n                      ; Kopiere Link
      Sleep, 300
      Send, n
      Sleep, 150
      IfWinExist, Main - TheBrain 7            ; Existiert Brain
      {
        WinActivate                   ; Ja?, dann aktivieren
        Sleep, 500
        Send, !g                  ; Menü Gedanke
        Sleep, 200
        Send, {Down 10}   {Enter}                    ;10x runter Bestätigen
        Sleep, 200
        if Not WinActive("ahk_class SunAwtDialog")
        {
          Sleep, 500
          Send, {Up}                 ;hoch und danach enter (nur falls child aktiviert wird - siehe optionen Brain)
          Sleep, 100
          Send, {Enter}                 ;Bestätigen
          Sleep, 100
          WinActivate, %title%          ;Zurück ins vorherige Fenster
        }
      }        
    }
  }
return
#IfWinActive   ;EVERNOTE



This code generates a child in TheBrain from your current selection:

#v::            ; Markierung als BrainChild einfügen ShortCut: WIN + V
  WinGetTitle, title, A           ; Holt sich titel des aktuellen Fensters
  Send, ^c                        ; kopiert Text in Zwischenablage
  Sleep, 50
  ;~ MsgBox, %title%
  IfWinExist, Main - TheBrain 7            ; Existiert Brain
  {
    ;~ MsgBox, Brain
    WinActivate                   ; Ja?, dann aktivieren
    Sleep, 500
    Send, {F6}                    ; neuer Childknoten
    Sleep, 100
    Send, ^v                      ;Einfügen
    Sleep, 100
    Send, {Enter}                 ;Bestätigen
    Sleep, 1500
    Send, {Up}                 ;hoch und danach enter (nur falls child aktiviert wird - siehe optionen Brain)
    Sleep, 200
    Send, {Enter}                 ;Bestätigen
    Sleep, 200
    WinActivate, %title%          ;Zurück ins vorherige Fenster
  }
return
 


TheBrain 8.0.1.3 Win7 x64 J-1.7.0_45
Quote
d_or2000
I have the same issue about how to have TB as the end of the chain of information in a simple manner.

An everyday issue is for example the work flow between RSS feeds read on my phone/tablet and the TB. This involves all these steps:
  • an RSS reader: currently Feedly after the demise of Google Reader that I combine with the Reeder app (so that I can have off-line access). I use this to skim the titles of several hundreds feed sources.
  • a read later app (Instapaper): I use this to store and read more in depth a few selections from the sifting of feeds in the RSS reader.
  • transfer to a storing app: currently the Evernote app (through the QEver app, when I want to just copy extracts of the news feed). I use this to copy paste extracts of the feeds read in Instapaper. It can be the name of a person, an institution, a concept, a link, etc.
  • synchronization with Evernote on my laptop. This is just a step before transferring to TheBrain. Since TheBrain exists only on the laptop I have to transfer all the information on the laptop.
  • finally I have to painfully open each note in Evernote and transfer their content to TheBrain in one of several thoughts (I also use a AHK hotkey for copy-pasting to TB). As a result that is the step that I have difficulty to do because it already the end of the information chain, I usually have a backlog of several weeks.

The step that i don't need is the Evernote step. I am using Evernote only for lack of alternative, but I don't find it a particularly smart way to store information. It´s back to the folder structure (with indeed the useful usage of tags). To me, nothing to compare with the smart contextual organization of knowledge in TB.

So ideally, I would rather directly send news feed and extracts to TB. That is, ideally, all the nice ways that exists to send information to Evernote on the phone/tablet should be identical to send information to TB (including, an app  similar to QEver that only sends extract copied from the source text).

Finally, I would just need organizing the daily crop of information within TB. The thoughts would already be created in an Inbox, and I would just have to put them in their context by the creation of links. Backlogs would be less of a problem since at least the new thoughts would be searchable within TB.
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