Documents are dead, long live the note
This was originally written by one of our users, Nick Reynolds. You can find the original post on his blog, Sparkspring.
I’ve been using a note taking app called Fetchnotes which is forcing me to rethink how documents work, or rather don’t work.
Historically and even in today’s world of documents in the cloud we use the concept of the document or the file as a container within which we write words or create an image. These files have to have a title and are almost always stored in a folder within a file system.
These documents with their titles and file system are disappearing. They didn’t really exist in the first place - more that the organising metaphor has now gone and the technology created to support it redundant.
Now re-imagine this and think about creating a note that has no title and isn’t stored in a particular place. To find this note in among a sea of others it contains keyword #tags and also Twitter-style @-mentions to a colleague who can instantaneously see the note and edit it. As Sarah Perez says on Techcrunch “Fetchnotes makes your to-do lists more social, collaborative like Google Docs, but as easy as messaging.”
Fetchnotes is the simplest possible embodiment of what one might call a dynamic document although note is now a far better metaphor as notes don’t have titles, they are not filed and can be passed around easily in any format. Fetchnotes kills traditional collaboration. Documents are reinvented and email and IM sidelined. Fetchnotes are not even objects around which messages and information coalesce. They are all three in one.
Fetchnotes founder Alex Schiff: “Most people use Fetchnotes for dynamic note taking rather than being your file cabinet, something Evernote is targeting a lot harder. A lot more of the notes taken with us get deleted relative to other note taking apps because you’re cycling through your to do list, figuring out what you want to do with that idea. You can certainly use it as a database too - I do for things like lightweight contact management and saving useful links but that’s less of what we see as our value proposition.”
In addition to more immediate updates which will allow you to share notes to non-Fetchnotes users and notifications for updates to shared notes, third party integration is on the way too. Alex adds: “We should have two integrations built by the end of the summer, and in all likelihood they’ll be done this month. I would love to give more details but don’t want to piss off our partners!”
Aside from liking the product itself I have felt myself drawn to the founders Alex and Chase Lee who ever since mis-sending out a gaff-laden email to users have been visible and outspoken about all their trials and tribulations. In addition to which their most recent funding ‘round’ is entirely financed by Karaoke sessions. You’ve gotta love ‘em.
So what’s the long-term plan? Alex says: “Build an amazing product that millions of people love. We have some well thought out plans here we’re looking to test soon, so I don’t want to tip the cards just yet, but we want to do whatever we can to make your notes useful, so our business model will reflect that.”
It took me a while to get the hang of Fetchnotes because I kept using the old mindset that notes need titles the very notion of which is irrelevant now. I found it hard to shake my old world-view but I knew, nagging away underneath there was something better, something simpler. It was there all along, just hidden in plain sight.
I think they’re on to something here about the traditional file / file system metaphor going away. Tweet-sized notes that can easily cross-reference each other are gonna blow up.
Peabrain is just a tiny playful experiment, and bet, on the fact that SMS is the right input method, and that publicity and social are probably already mostly taken care of by Twitter. I’ve written 156 notes in just the last 19 days since I started playing around with it.
I’m definitely gonna be listening to these FetchNotes guys though, they’re smart.