Everlasting Return

Aileen A friend said to me recently that it had got to the stage where there were more things she had forgotten than things she remembered. Another good friend once told me, while he deep in darkest PhD land, that he had discovered notes written by himself a year previously with exactly the same insights as the ones thought he’d just uncovered. I have a bad memory, and I’ve often wondered is it an occupational hazard or am I just plain unlucky with the memory cells I inherited (my mother also has a poor memory, ‘sure what do you need short term memory for anyway’ she says. Good point ma).

So like the character in memento, I have systems. One of my co-conspirators asked me what pieces of software were useful to me in my work. I’m noting them here in the hope that others will add to the list.

1. A database of some sort for references. I used to use Endnote when I was on the PC. Then switched to Bookends when I got a mac. I’m not sure why, but I think that Endnote may not have supported macs back then. Bookends is good, but I’m wondering if I should switch to Endnote, because I’m not sure that bookends allows me to automatically import references from journals websites – I must check this.

2. An Organiser of some sort. I use Omni-outliner because it came with my mac. It allows me to make lists, and add links to word documents, pdfs, spreadsheets within my lists. I can make notes and record web-address. I’ve now opened a separate file for each of my projects – including one called “My Life’s Work” (maybe I will write more of that later) 3. An RSS feed aggregator I use igoogle reader – I subscribe to the RSS feeds of journals so get to see what articles are available as soon as they hit the inter-web.

I have heard of, and been tempted by, mind-map programs, because I occasionally find mind-maps a good way of working through the lines of thought when an article is being troublesome – but I’m not sure what advantage a computer application has over pens and paper.

edited to add: I forgot (of course) to mention also this Blog, a place to record the flotsam and jetsam that doesn't belong elsewhere