I have listened to, I think, every podcast that Evernote has produced since the beginning. I have always enjoyed them and gleaned useful tidbits about how to use Evernote and what their future plans were going to be. This latest podcast really made me scratch my head. This is the first time that I really felt like I wasn't on board with what they were talking about. I think the latest podcast explains a lot of the problems that Evernote has been experiencing lately. They were explaining some of the new direction of the company that they rolled out at the Evernote conference. Apparently, skeuomorphism is out. Any remnants of it must be removed from their product. I don't really have a strong opinion either way on the matter as far as the UI goes. If someone wants leather stitched lining on their computer calendar or, as Apple did up until recently, little remnants of torn away paper on the top of their calendar, that's fine with me. As the podcast went on though, they went on to something which I think is actually a bad idea. Phil Libin is apparently on the warpath against 'Cognitive Skeuomorphism.' He seems to think that any productivity or application paradigm that has it's basis in actual physical media is not efficient or elegant. Digital applications should discard many of the old concepts and paradigms of physical media. They pointed out how file cabinets, documents, files, even inboxes when used in digital applications or software is 'Cognitive Skeuomorphism.' They lost me there. These things were developed and have been used for many decades because they work. People understand these concepts and have developed workflows that use them. They are efficient conceptual patterns to organize and do productive work. I didn't get the impression from listening to the podcast that they were pointing out anything fundamentally wrong about these things but merely that since we are more advanced now and using digital applications, we should find new paradigms because we can. It all seemed very elitist and condescending to the average user who just wants to have his files, inboxes and documents without worrying about 'Cognitive Skeuomorphism' or being forced in to new work flows or patterns without a good reason. I was thinking that if they had thought this much about it, there must be some compelling new ways to approach old problems and to break free of all our old cognitive skeuomorphisms. What have they come up with as they push forward in to this new age? They devoted months of developers time and countless hours to come up with ---- Work Chat! They took Evernote and bolted on a 90's era Internet Messenger client. Not exactly cutting edge, new wave thinking. Work chat feels like they had a problem. They wanted to monetize Evernote more, attract more business paying clients and keep them in Evernote. They wanted to turn Evernote from a Remember Everything, intelligent application that stored everything and could recall it easily into a "Work Space." Unfortunately, this is not what Evernote was originally designed to do. Redesigning and repurposing the already existing client, servers and databased to pursue this new goal is difficult and ultimately will never be as good as other applications already out there which do it much better. They talked about how difficult it was to get this Work Chat client working and being able to scale to millions of users. I thought to myself, that's interesting that they are focusing so much on getting scalability working for Work Chat when they can't even solve the scalability problems for users with large databases of notes, which is supposed to be the fundamental purpose of Evernote. I also thought it was a little humorous when they said early in the podcast that they had banned PowerPoint at Evernote headquarters. Later in the podcast, Phil was musing about how great Presentation mode is because when he walks around the office, he sees everyone using it. That tends to happen when you ban the other application that does this well. (Presentation mode has it's uses but doesn't really compare to power point). They also were singing the praises of Context on the podcast. In the first half of the podcast, they extolled the virtues of the clean, uncluttered workspace. They said how pointless it was to have buttons and distractions around the interface that were not frequently used. They seemed to assume that everyone agrees with them and wants to have a clear, white blank interface to type in. Maybe there are some people out there who like having ready access to many options and buttons and their list of notes displayed are not distracted by them? The ironic thing is that Context is distracting for me and I can't figure out why anyone would want Evernote mining their notes and coming up with searches for information that I haven't asked for. I don't need to see a "Linked In" box for everyone mentioned in my note. I think it's usually superfluous and if I really wanted the information it's only a google search away. They kept saying how Evernote wants us to "work better" and that Context will enable us to do this. Even if Context worked 100% as advertised, I see it as marginally useful at best and distracting waste of space at worst. Context is a basically re-packaged 'Related Notes.' I have used Evernote every day for the past 5 years and I can't think of one time that I actually saw something in 'Related Notes' while I was working and clicked on it. If I'm searching for something, that's what the search box is for. The one thing Context does do is provide revenue stream for Evernote because I'm sure the WSJ is paying for the privilege of their articles showing up in my Evernote client. Listening to Andrew Sinkov's presentation at the evernote conference and his desire to 'bend the universe,' it seems like Evernote's braintrust has been bored and doesn't want to just be an excellent storehouse for information and data retrieval that synced across multiple platforms and devices. Which they were very good at. They wanted to do something exciting like becoming a collaborative tool for businesses. As has been pointed out elsewhere in the forums, they could have done this more gradually and introduced another client for this purpose that integrated well with the core application. I really appreciated that in the past Evernote focused on doing the core services well and did not want to venture out in to tasks and services that they were not good at. They developed a robust API and actively encouraged developers to broaden the features and capabilities of the core Evernote application. This allowed them to focus laser-like on their original purpose of storing and retrieving and cataloging a user's information. Adobe has done this well over the years. They have maintained the features of the Adobe Photoshop application for many, many years. They have added on features but have not deprecated or removed features. Microsoft does a lot of things wrong but they certainly understand the importance of backward compatibility and stability in their applications especially when it comes to businesses. The longer that an application is out there and being used by businesses and individuals, the more critical it is not to break workflows. Not to arbitrarily remove features. Evernote must think that it is still a start up company that can ignore the needs of it's users and make fundamental course changes abruptly and without preparing users for the changes or providing ways for them to maintain their previous work flows. Anyway, that's enough of a rant. I have been a big Evernote fan for years and have introduced many people to it. I am saddened to see the new directions they are taking and feel like it will be detrimental to the company in the long run when they lose focus on what made them successful. Evernote for now is unique in the features and advantages that it offers and this makes it difficult to switch. I never really considered moving to another platform until the past few months. I'm hopeful they'll have a change of heart and return to their roots and make Evernote better and more reliable than ever. I hope they will listen to the feedback of users about their design changes that are causing more turmoil than needed and provide a stable client and interface. They should enable users to maintain their work flows and configure their clients to the way they want to use them. Serving the customers needs, not your own, and recognizing the difference, is the foundation of a solid company. ----- As a side note, I'm not sure when this podcast was recorded, but it would have been nice for them to at least acknowledge some of their missteps recently, especially with the Penultimate app (I think the infinite scrolling with out pages is attributable to the new war against 'Cognitive Skeuomorphism') and the new Mac user interface and at least briefly discuss their response to it.