Thursday, January 24, 2013 Pull browsing and streams of consciousness into notepads

So an idea came to me a while back for a site to build and then it turns out someone already built it. Which is great, I don't have to do any of the work! +Springpad is a web/mobile app that makes it easy to collect little bits around the web, text, pictures on your phone or on the web, and put them in notebooks which can be public or private, have comments, have multiple collaborators, etc.

I'll explain why I use this and why it's so neat, in my opinion, but first here's the details:

The web page is here.
The Android app is here.
The iPhone app is here.
The Chrome extension is here.

Why I Wanted It

So first of all, bookmarking kind of sucks. There's generally just a title and it's awkward and clunky to navigate large bookmark folders. Here is, seriously, some of my bookmarks in Chrome:

So that's no good, though it's easy and fast. But so many times I'm browsing around and I find an article that's interesting and maybe I want to reference it later, so where do I put it?

Well, I was using for a bit, but it turns out that maybe shoving a bunch of stuff into one gigantic pile, which is what it does by default, isn't so hot and I ended up with a HUGE backlog of un-categorized stuff.

What of this was reference? What of it was for reading later? What of it was just documenting?

Pocket's simplicity is awesome if all you're doing is marking things to read and then deleting them as you read them, but that wasn't really my use case. (NB: Totally possible I was just misusing Pocket, but the interface didn't guide me to do things "better" other than simply adding tags which seems a bit less than stellar.)

Enter Springpad

So with Springpad you make "Notebooks." They get organized into a personal library:

There's a bunch of options for how the pads display once you click into them, but mine (all web links currently) mostly look like this right now:

This app/site solves the following problems for my problem domain:

  • The Android app can push to Springpad from anything that can "share." Photos, tweets, web pages, etc. can be easily shared. (I haven't tried video or audio yet.)
  • The Chrome plugin makes it easy to add pages as you browse.
  • People can now see what I've been reading in a much more visually interesting way than Google Reader and organized how I want it to be.
  • I can add notes, TODO lists, etc. to these pads. (Remember, they can be public or private.)
You CAN share directly the things you Springpad, but I like the fact that you don't have to share them for people to get at them, that's key, to me. I don't have to post something you might disagree with or upset you on your stupid Facebook wall to be able to have a public place on the Internet which collects things I've read/found interesting for others to see!

You can make a journal, a collaborative wall with really interesting pictures, or save things for reference later. There's actually a ton more things you can do, but I just think the idea is very cool.

Disclaimer: I don't actually care to engage in heated discussion about things I put in my pads. It's not for you, it's for me. If you think it's neat, feel free to say that, but I'm sharing it on Springpad because if I like an article that you disagree with YOU WERE THE ONE THAT WANDERED INTO MY PAD IN THE FIRST PLACE so I don't care to waste brain cycles hearing why my opinion or the article (which I may or may not agree with) is "so horribly wrong."