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Me vs Market

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In this recent article on theguardian.com there seem to be some disjointed/ out-of-place comments made at a Web Summit conference in Dublin - about the ethos behind Evernote's startup and where the company is heading. 

 

I think since Evernote is going to outlive it's creator in becoming a 100-year company, unless he plans to live to at least 135, then it may be a good idea to consider also making what the market thinks is great/ needs. The following statement, together with a few others, seems to be out of kilter. I think this is a great piece of advice for a startup... but Evernote is no longer a startup: 

 

“How are you going to make something great unless you make it for yourself? You make something you love, and then you find the market that it fits.”

 

I totally agree... but now that Evernote has found the market it fits, with a 100,000,000-strong user base and steadily growing, it is an established market in itself, with people who have invested themselves in the product and shoved it down the throats of everyone they know (I know I have). The Evernote that people have come to love and depend on has been working just fine. Why take a winning recipe/ vision (which might simply have initially been a serendipitous strike of luck that hit the spot with so many people), and then tell users what you think they should be focusing on... what's better for them? You can't continue to make something great just for yourself, especially if it's moving into uncharted territory, and assume that it's all automatically going to strike a chord with people the way the original basic concept resonated with the multitudes.

 

“We make things we love. I think that’s critical. Product/market fit is kinda a bullshit concept. You can’t approach it that way: ‘What should I build? Let me go and see what the market needs!’. That doesn’t make any sense: your only competitive advantage is to make something great,” he said.

 

Yes... but that's for startups. Once you have a significant user base, you've got to go on the needs of that user base... unless you are confident enough that you're going to tap into a new niche market independent of the users who directly contributed to the success of the platform in the first place. As a blogger and as a teacher, I have introduced many to Evernote. Will I continue to be as enthusiastic? Yes... if the app as we know it diversifies BUT ALSO does not regress in it's basic functionality. Go wild... but somehow keep those core note-taking abilities intact. 

 

 

Libin said that Evernote has rethought the core of its business, drilling down on work and businesses, rather than consumer note-taking. “We’re about work. Last year we made he decision to really focus on work. We don’t really talk about Evernote [as something] for your hobbies any more,” he said. “What’s the biggest impact we can have? We realised that the biggest impact we can have is have work suck less.”
 
All fine and well, but reshaping the core of your business because you're on a buzz about another great idea/ focus? When what you're building for yourself continues to evolve, will the users necessarily be as excited as you? You can't have your cake and eat it (in terms of face-value statements)... I see a little confusion/ contradiction here: Is this still building something you personally think is great, or is it in fact building something you think would be great for the market? It may probably become wildly successful... but to me, this smacks of anticipating what the market wants/ needs, more so than continuing to fundamentally build a product that one uses for themselves. I think it's OK to build something that the market needs AND what one personally thinks is great. I think Evernote will find that balance... but why such polarizing statements?
 
I never saw Evernote as something for my hobbies. What?! I've been using it for work all along. How is it that it's assumed that people have not been using Evernote for work?... unless they do have their eyeballs on the content within peoples' accounts. I don't think so, but why does consumer note-taking not relate to work?... you know, GTD and all that wonderful stuff...
 
Are we going to see a change in the catch-phrase, "Remember everything"?
 
Evernote - "Work sucks less"
 
Doesn't this new vision sort of detract from the actual name, "Evernote" - if it's not all about note-taking and remembering everything, using it as your external brain, etc.? If you change the slogan, you're going to change the feel of it. And it needs to change with a new core vision, right? Kind of a catch-22 thing. 
 
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It's a challenge to create a vision, shape it over time, articulate it, and try to adjust the wording to fit changing circumstances. This video by Andrew Sinkov gives some insight into how the process has unfolded at Evernote.

 

 

I have some extremely strong thoughts about what has happened, because I bought into the original metaphors ("remember everything" and your "external brain"), and the new one ("one workspace") leaves me behind. The "work" they have in mind is not my "work," and I would prefer to have seen them achieve success with the original objective, which no one else out there can deliver (at least, not on every major platform). They were pioneers in attempting this ("remember everything"), but they aren't pioneers in making a "workspace" for me -- everyone seems to be trying to take a swing at Microsoft these days and I don't know of anyone else who has gone as far as them towards realizing the "remember everything" metaphor. If you are still invested in this original vision of an "external brain," you'll probably have to commit to a single operating system (Mac seems the best at the moment) on the desktop (there are workarounds for mobile, but they are clunky). I've expressed my thoughts many times in public on these forums and private, so I won't belabor the point here :)

 

Anyhow, the good news for users is that Evernote does have a clear vision, which puts it ahead of a lot of other services, and they are enthusiastically invested in making it work. It may not be the same as the original vision. In fact, it is an entire redefinition of the service. They've evolved, as Andrew says. But, as in the beginning, it continues to be innovative. That's good to see. I'll definitely continue recommending Evernote to others (not "shoving it down their throats"!), because I think there are many people whose work would benefit from it. 

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This video by Andrew Sinkov gives some insight into how the process has unfolded at Evernote.

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9nKF2Xp_g24&feature=youtu.be

 

I have some extremely strong thoughts about what has happened, because I bought into the original metaphors ("remember everything" and your "external brain"), and the new one ("one workspace") leaves me behind. The "work" they have in mind is not my "work," and I would prefer to have seen them achieve success with the original objective, which no one else out there can deliver (at least, not on every major platform). They were pioneers in attempting this ("remember everything"), but they aren't pioneers in making a "workspace" for me -- everyone seems to be trying to take a swing at Microsoft these days and I don't know of anyone else who has gone as far as them towards realizing the "remember everything" metaphor. If you are still invested in this original vision of an "external brain," you'll probably have to commit to a single operating system (Mac seems the best at the moment) on the desktop (there are workarounds for mobile, but they are clunky). I've expressed my thoughts many times in public on these forums and private, so I won't belabor the point here :)

 

GM, thanks for posting this very revealing video.

 

Some key points made by Andrew:

  1. Evernote no longer views itself as a "note taking" app
  2. Evernote no longer views itself as a storage provider for all your memories
  3. Evernote has conquered and dominate the note taking market, but it is a boring market that has little impact on the world
  4. They have "paused", and re-evaluated who they are, and what they want to do
  5. They now see themselves as the provider of relevant information as you work/type in Evernote

Per point #3, it is interesting that Evernote thinks it has finished its work as originally conceived, and now think it is not all that important.  He made several statement to the effect of "who cares that we have the world's best note-taking app -- it doesn't really matter that much or change things". (my paraphrase).

 

They don't seem to realize that there is still a lot of work to be done on Evernote (the note-taking app) to make it a truly outstanding tool.

 

With their new vision they seem to think they have stumbled on how to do basic research.  The way Andrew describes it we all would be just re-inventing the wheel without realizing that our work-mate in the next cubicle is a wheel expert.  So this is where Context comes in, showing you your work-mates wheel research notes as soon as you type the word "wheel".

 

This is incredibly naive and shortsighted, and really is big slam on those of us who have been doing real research for years, building on all research done before us.

 

Basic Problems with the Context concept:

  1. As anyone who has done real research knows, the researcher may take many notes, and draw up draft/tenative conclusions long before the well-validated findings are reached.  Pulling up your work-mate's draft notes could be as harmful as helpful.
  2. Most researchers value their privacy, and will strongly object to anyone seeing their working notes before they have published the results.  This applies to both engineering/scientific researchers, as well as company employees researching an idea, vendors, supplies, etc.
  3. IMO, pulling from WSJ and other sources likely to pull in a lot of irrelevant info that is just a distraction to your work.  As an expert in their field, a researcher knows what sources to review, and what key words to search for.  I really doubt Evernote Context can come anywhere close to this.

BTW, do you know where I can get a transcript of this video?

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With their Wall Street Journal and other publication partnerships, through Context, I see Evernote as having become the early stages of an abstract Netflix.  I predict Evernote will eventually bring on their own business/industry specific journalists to enhance their Context feature.

 

 

This video by Andrew Sinkov gives some insight into how the process has unfolded at Evernote.

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9nKF2Xp_g24&feature=youtu.be

 

I have some extremely strong thoughts about what has happened, because I bought into the original metaphors ("remember everything" and your "external brain"), and the new one ("one workspace") leaves me behind. The "work" they have in mind is not my "work," and I would prefer to have seen them achieve success with the original objective, which no one else out there can deliver (at least, not on every major platform). They were pioneers in attempting this ("remember everything"), but they aren't pioneers in making a "workspace" for me -- everyone seems to be trying to take a swing at Microsoft these days and I don't know of anyone else who has gone as far as them towards realizing the "remember everything" metaphor. If you are still invested in this original vision of an "external brain," you'll probably have to commit to a single operating system (Mac seems the best at the moment) on the desktop (there are workarounds for mobile, but they are clunky). I've expressed my thoughts many times in public on these forums and private, so I won't belabor the point here :)

 

GM, thanks for posting this very revealing video.

 

Some key points made by Andrew:

  1. Evernote no longer views itself as a "note taking" app
  2. Evernote no longer views itself as a storage provider for all your memories
  3. Evernote has conquered and dominate the note taking market, but it is a boring market that has little impact on the world
  4. They have "paused", and re-evaluated who they are, and what they want to do
  5. They now see themselves as the provider of relevant information as you work/type in Evernote

Per point #3, it is interesting that Evernote thinks it has finished its work as originally conceived, and now think it is not all that important.  He made several statement to the effect of "who cares that we have the world's best note-taking app -- it doesn't really matter that much or change things". (my paraphrase).

 

They don't seem to realize that there is still a lot of work to be done on Evernote (the note-taking app) to make it a truly outstanding tool.

 

With their new vision they seem to think they have stumbled on how to do basic research.  The way Andrew describes it we all would be just re-inventing the wheel without realizing that our work-mate in the next cubicle is a wheel expert.  So this is where Context comes in, showing you your work-mates wheel research notes as soon as you type the word "wheel".

 

This is incredibly naive and shortsighted, and really is big slam on those of us who have been doing real research for years, building on all research done before us.

 

Basic Problems with the Context concept:

  1. As anyone who has done real research knows, the researcher may take many notes, and draw up draft/tenative conclusions long before the well-validated findings are reached.  Pulling up your work-mate's draft notes could be as harmful as helpful.
  2. Most researchers value their privacy, and will strongly object to anyone seeing their working notes before they have published the results.  This applies to both engineering/scientific researchers, as well as company employees researching an idea, vendors, supplies, etc.
  3. IMO, pulling from WSJ and other sources likely to pull in a lot of irrelevant info that is just a distraction to your work.  As an expert in their field, a researcher knows what sources to review, and what key words to search for.  I really doubt Evernote Context can come anywhere close to this.

BTW, do you know where I can get a transcript of this video?

 

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Thanks for the video GM.

 

Some interesting points:

 

I found the following a little strange:

  • "We already dominate it [note-taking space]... but that's a crappy space to dominate. No one is so excited, like 'The best note-taker!". Go get 'em!... That's not who we are and that's not who we wanna be... and our hearts never really wanted to be that...we wanted to be something bigger, something more important, something more valuable... you're hardly bending the universe if you're just being the best note taker. You're hardly changing the world if all you're being is the best note taker...Would 100,000,000 people go and get a note-taker? I'm like 'No!'... that's so small. That's such a small and uninteresting thing to do."

But then it made a little more sense in light of the following, which I thought was pretty cool:

  • We're not about the storage... of course you can put everything into Evernote that you want. We're about surfacing it, making it valuable and giving you the information that you need... in order to build the narrative that you need to work better.
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I found the following a little strange:

  • "We already dominate it [note-taking space]... but that's a crappy space to dominate. No one is so excited, like 'The best note-taker!". Go get 'em!... That's not who we are and that's not who we wanna be... and our hearts never really wanted to be that...we wanted to be something bigger, something more important, something more valuable... you're hardly bending the universe if you're just being the best note taker. You're hardly changing the world if all you're being is the best note taker...Would 100,000,000 people go and get a note-taker? I'm like 'No!'... that's so small. That's such a small and uninteresting thing to do."

 

 

That's a great point, Frank.  Same point I was trying to make, but you did it much better.

Did you find a transcript somewhere, or did you do your own?

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I found the following a little strange:

  • "We already dominate it [note-taking space]... but that's a crappy space to dominate. No one is so excited, like 'The best note-taker!". Go get 'em!... That's not who we are and that's not who we wanna be... and our hearts never really wanted to be that...we wanted to be something bigger, something more important, something more valuable... you're hardly bending the universe if you're just being the best note taker. You're hardly changing the world if all you're being is the best note taker...Would 100,000,000 people go and get a note-taker? I'm like 'No!'... that's so small. That's such a small and uninteresting thing to do."
 

That's a great point, Frank.  Same point I was trying to make, but you did it much better.

Did you find a transcript somewhere, or did you do your own?

I had no idea their goal was to be able to "bend the universe." I would have settled for being able to take notes and email them to my friends and co-workers but that is a bit mundane.

Steve

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Thanks for the video GM.

Ditto, GM. Interesting to watch it. Thanks.

 

Some interesting points:

 

I found the following a little strange:

  • "We already dominate it [note-taking space]... but that's a crappy space to dominate. No one is so excited, like 'The best note-taker!". Go get 'em!... That's not who we are and that's not who we wanna be... and our hearts never really wanted to be that...we wanted to be something bigger, something more important, something more valuable... you're hardly bending the universe if you're just being the best note taker. You're hardly changing the world if all you're being is the best note taker...Would 100,000,000 people go and get a note-taker? I'm like 'No!'... that's so small. That's such a small and uninteresting thing to do."
But then it made a little more sense in light of the following, which I thought was pretty cool:
  • We're not about the storage... of course you can put everything into Evernote that you want. We're about surfacing it, making it valuable and giving you the information that you need... in order to build the narrative that you need to work better.

I didn't find that strange at all. I've never really seen Evernote as just a note-taking app. In many ways, it's not that well suited towards advanced note-taking at all. It is mundane1. But it does have some degree of competency at note-taking, and on top of that, it makes it easy to gather diverse types information from many sources, and categorize it if you want to, so that you can find it when you need it. That's really where it's at right now, at least for me.

 

"Bending the universe" ... these folks aim high. It's easy to snicker at that, because it comes out self-congratulatory and/or arrogant, perhaps. But more power to them -- we should all want good tools. What they have now already helps me do my work better. As far as I can tell, that stuff stays; the future Evernote builds on that. Where they're going, it's not so clear that all of that applies -- presenting is rarely something that I need to do... I don't build narratives... writing to some degree, but how does it help me to write code better?

 

And ultimately, how does it fit into an existing, diverse, messy, cobbled-together system that comprises a modern small business? How does it hook into all of the diverse systems that we have in place at work? Goldmine, that dog of a program that the sales folk live in. The semi-abandoned wiki? All that email. Two, count-em, two bug-tracking systems (we're in transition currently). The tidbits that spark through IM. And all of those important files scattered about the network. Not to mention that critical procedure that only Joe knows how to do, so that if he takes a hike, we're cooked. It goes on and on. Do we need to adopt Evernote wholesale, or will individuals be able to just point Evernote at it all, and eventually everything is known? That would be something.

 

Edit: oh yeah, and the "storagething. Yeah, right on. The whole notion of where stuff is stored is fundamentally boring. I only care whether something's in a notebook if I need to do one of the special notebook-y things: share a group of notes, have a group of notes available on a mobile device, that sort of thing. Otherwise, notebook name could just as well be a tag 

 

1 (another edit) er, Note-taking is mundane, not Evernote.

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JMichael,

Nope... I thought you summarized the first half of the talk pretty well. In my case it's just easier to transcribe portions. How useful do you think a transcript would be? Although time consuming, it might be a most profitable experience - Haha! - as the Ferengi might put it (Star Trek).

BTW, here's a post a very few in the forums might have seen... Something I blogged on a short while back, drawing a parallel between the "Human Intersect" (from the Spy-Comedy TV series "Chuck") and Evernote. Just need to update the post with "Contexts":

http://www.productivitymashup.com/blog/2014/08/11/chuck-vs-the-evernote

Definitely in line with the direction Evernote is going ;-)

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Here are the first 15 minutes of Andrew Sinkov's talk I transcribed this morning, verbatim (If there is a demand for the other 35-odd minutes... let me know:



[1-5 minutes]
I'm Andrew Sinkov. I run marketing for Evernote. I've been with Evernote... It kind of feels like forever. I've been with Evernote for about seven years... And there's been, just as you would expect, a lot of change. So you go from... when we started I think we were like 15 people or something like that. Now we're 400. When we started we were... kind of felt like we were kind of solving one thing, now we feel like we're solving another. So... one of the qualities of anyone - It's not just a company, it's like a person - is that every so often you have to say "Let's stop for a second and make sure that we are actually making the right choices, that we're actually talking about ourselves in the right way." Presumably after seven years you're not the same. Just like people, the company is not exactly the same. We may have sort of the same fundamental mission and the same fundamental goals but we have evolved so as has the world. So how do we think about that? How do we talk about that? What are the words that we use? What is the way that we present ourselves to the world and what do we expect the world to think of us?

So that's what I want to talk about… and... we start at the beginning, really. We start with this tagline [multimedia]. So, "Remember Everything." I credit Phil with coming up with this tagline. It's beautiful. It's actually rare that you are actually sort of able to combine two words in something that is so profoundly important and valuable and has so much sort of "gravitas" to it... and incredibly ambitious, right? So we're sort of saying that wherever you are right now, wherever you are as a user right now... years from now, we're going to help you gather and collect everything that matters to you and have it for you. Super powerful. I'm going to show you something that the Evernote employees among this audience have probably never seen... In 2008 we were really focused on the brain aspect of Evernote… So you've heard a little bit of this actually in Phil's keynote - but this idea that Evernote was your second brain was a really big part of the story. And so we had a cartoonist come up with this [multimedia]... Looking back on this... these are the sorts of things that you look back on them, and you are like, "Man! I kind of wish I hadn't done that." But this is on the site… so it's there. It's on our blog somewhere. But this was the idea… This was sort of the kind of underlying mentality that we had as a company... was that what we were going to do... is that you, as an individual, were in sort of in this transitional moment in 2007/2008/2009- where, you know, Mobo was really starting to pick up... there was the amount of information you were dealing with online... was really accelerating... and there was a fatigue that we could sense... we just knew it was only going to be more... and so there was this idea of, well, like, if we are your second brain, then what are we actually doing? That means your brain is full, so we're going to help you out.

[5-10 minutes]

And so we kind of took this comical approach… but this is what we believed. And Everything… The word, "Everything" is an incredibly powerful word. It's super powerful, because, I mean, well… It means EVERYTHING. That means were taking on ourselves… We're taking on the responsibility of helping you with whatever comes at you. Whatever comes at you. So as a user, and as an early startup, as an early company, this is really an important message. This is a big message. This is an ambitious message. This is looking forward to what we want to be. You start, over time, getting to sort of... things start to get a little bit more difficult. So you start growing, and you're still saying, "Everything". And all of a sudden you're like, "Well, what does it mean? What is it? Like, everything is everything." So in the beginning, we can be this young company that's just going to say, "We're gonna do it all." But at some point you have to say, "Well, actually, we know. We know something." And this is where we start getting into trouble... Because, actually, it's a problem. Saying, "Everything" is great until somebody asks you, "Like, what?" Because as soon as someone asks you, "Like, what?" then you're grasping... Because "Everything" is "Everything". So you say, "Well, what do you want to use it for?" So, when some people would ask us, "Well, what do you use Evernote for?" My response was frequently... and I actually encouraged a lot of people within the company: "Think of yourself. Think of something that you use Evernote for. Think of something that you get value out of... and then, tell them that." So that makes it really personal. Sort of like, "I use it for planning a meal. I do a lot of recipe clipping (whatever that may be)... That's what I use Evernote for. That's what it is for me." What is it going to be for you? Well, maybe you don't care about recipes. So that makes it challenging. That was a challenge that we had.

So we had to think about this… we had to think about this as an evolving company. I want to show you a few other examples of where we start seeing this evolution and where we start seeing the difficulties. These are two examples of early Evernote home pages [multimedia]... well, not early... The first one on the left is actually our very first home page when we launched in 2008... and the next one is, I think, around 2012. So, in the beginning, you're sort of seeing a lot of kind of similar ideas through this. You're sort of seeing this idea of... at the time when we launched, synchronization was something that, like, you just couldn't just do really, so this was a really powerful story. But very technical. Like, a startup, we're sort of telling a very technology-forward story. And then, when you look over to the right [multimedia], you start seeing... what we're starting to mean by "Everything." So it's, "Capture everything", "Access anywhere". A lot of these, "Any" words. Again, not super focused... Because we want to tell people that "whatever it is that you want, we can be that for you." And you're starting to see some secondary apps appear [multimedia] along the bottom.

[multimedia] This was the previous home page to our current home page... and here, we are actually starting to see an even greater diversity of opportunities and stories that we're telling. We're telling a sign-up story, we're telling "You remember Everything"... But we also have the market, so it's starting to become… We're incorporating a number of physical goods... We have Evernote Business... So you're starting to see... and this is something that happens to a lot of companies, so... The reason I wanted to highlight this, is because this is something that is very common. This is something that happens all the time. As companies grow, all they do is they add on. They just say, "Well, that's what I used to do... Now I've got a new feature… Let me just like bolt this on... And in fact, let me put more navigation, let me put more CTA's and, you know, and different opportunities on our home page and our website to go somewhere"... and it's like, you go to these companies that have been around a long time, and you just don't understand what they do. And so, when you sort of find yourself in this place, you should pause... and you should do something that is really hard (and not something that even as people we tend to do), which is be reflective. So, you sort of pause and you say, "What is the world? What am I doing?Am I right? Am I taking the right approach? Or are things shifting around me and should I shift as well?"

[10 - 15 minutes]

So, we undertook a process within Evernote to understand kind of like who we are and to reassess what we do as a company, what our products are and also what we deliver to users. And in the process, this is really great, because we found what we do… and what we do ends up being super super important. So, the first sort of realization that we had, was this: you know there is a note-taking space, obviously. We all know that... But, that's like, "We already dominate it." So we are the... I would say we are the most important note-taking app that doesn't come with your computer... and certainly the most popular one. OK, so we already dominate that space. But that's a crappy space to dominate. Like, no one's so excited about, "Oh, the best note-taker. Go get 'em!"

So, we realized that that's just like not who we are. That's not who we are and that's not who we really wanna be. And in fact, we kind of in our hearts never really wanted to be that. We wanted to be something bigger, something more important, something more valuable, like... You are hardly bending the universe if all you're doing is being the best note taker. You're hardly changing the world if all you're being is the best note taker. So, some of the stuff that you heard in Phil's presentation... We take a step back, and we say, "OK, what's going on? Would 100 million people go and get a note taker?" Like, no... no! You wouldn't. Because, that's so small. That's such a small and uninteresting thing to do. Why are 100 million people going and getting Evernote? What is the thing that they want, what is the thing that they're doing, why are they doing this? We asked internally, and it was sort of eye-opening because within even our company we sort of had... like, a bunch of people were giving different answers about, "What are we doing? Why are we doing this?" So, we took a step back and we looked at this: 100 million users. So, then we say, "OK, great, 70% of these people use this for work. That's interesting." That's an unexpected sort of direction. You know, you wouldn't… especially if you're a note taker... that's not necessarily what people would be using it for - that they would be using it for work. They obviously use it also for their personal lives, but they say that (when we survey them)... that this is in fact the work tool of choice for them (That's amazing)... Again, that's not necessarily like where we started... that isn't where we started and that's not what we thought we were necessarily building... but this is where we are now... and we look back on it, and we are like, "We've actually done something." When 100 million people do anything (I mean really, there's like... if 100,000 people do anything, you should be paying attention)... When 100 million people do anything, that's a movement. So something is going on. And what's going on?

So, we started kind of this idea of... "So who...?" ...Well, in some cases, "Who are you?"... and "Who are our users? How would we define our users? How would we talk about our users?" And we came up with this kind of "The before and the after" in a way. So, "before", our users are snowflakes. And what "snowflakes" means, is that everybody is unique and that everybody is great - equally great – no matter what you do. But, the minute you start pulling on that thread, you realize that that's just fundamentally false. That can't be true because your garden is not nearly as important as your company that you're starting. It's just isn't. But, over the past 5/6 years, this is what we did. What we did, was we said, "A person that's planning out their garden... planning out a remodel is literally as important as the person who is about to do something crazy great", like the people we saw in that life's work video. We've got Will Werner, who's doing Craftsman and Wolves, building an amazing bakery here in San Francisco, and we're kind of equating that to some other guy or some other person that's doing something that really feels a lot smaller. Is that right? I don't think that's right, and I don't think that helps us as a company. That doesn't get people excited about what we're doing.

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Yeesh.

 

Thanks, Frank, but, uh, people who want to know what's in the video should just watch the video. And take notes in Evernote. :)

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That's why I only transcribed the first third ;-)

JMichael was asking about a transcript... Which for some people, might be useful to cite. But you're right... The video alone is just fine... PLUS the intonation and flow of the audio gives a better feel... And it's way more nerdy/ geeky.

Actually... you will be hard-pressed (Haha! I challenge someone!) to find any errors in the transcript, even though, for the most part, I dictated it on my iPhone (in EN). So it didn't take that long. 'Twas an interesting transcription experience in itself.

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Can't you just put your iPhone up to your computer speaker? Isn't this the 21st century, or what? :)

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Have you heard Andrew Sinkov fumbling over his words and truncating entire sentences in typical nerd-speak? Haha! I already tried what you suggested... It was a no-go. One has to be clear and deliberate when dictating, even with the best software out there. There is an art to it. Plus, one has to know how to dictate punctuation. Just for kicks… I'll show you how the first few sentences turn out - holding my iPhone to the speakers - and you can compare :-) ...

 

I need to go by the marketing firm been with Evernote you know kind of feel like forever something with Evan up for about seven years and there's been just like as you would expect a lot attaint right so you go from when we started having really 15 people or something like that in our 400 when we started we were going to go like we were selling one thing that we feel like were selling another so one one of the qualities of a note like anyone company is like a person is that you every so often you have

 

I'm Andrew Sinkov. I run marketing for Evernote. I've been with Evernote... It kind of feels like forever. I've been with Evernote for about seven years... And there's been, just as you would expect, a lot of change. So you go from... when we started I think we were like 15 people or something like that. Now we're 400. When we started we were... kind of felt like we were kind of solving one thing, now we feel like we're solving another. So... one of the qualities of anyone - It's not just a company, it's like a person - is that every so often you have 

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I think that the red version is more entertaining! I mean, who uses "attaint" any more, outside of lawyers?

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Yep... You should see when you try other languages... As I often do, forgetting to switch back from Portuguese to English. Also, it's incredible how Siri, more often than not, gives you the most obscure combinations instead of the most evident ones… uncensored.

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Transcribing him is pretty easy - just add "super" and "awesome" to each sentence. Bonus points if you can get 2 of each in there.

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Transcribing him is pretty easy - just add "super" and "awesome" to each sentence. Bonus points if you can get 2 of each in there.

 

Although I did include a lot of "Like's" and "Sort of's", I did take the liberty of omitting roughly half of them  :P

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Here are the first 15 minutes of Andrew Sinkov's talk I transcribed this morning, verbatim (If there is a demand for the other 35-odd minutes... let me know:

 

Frank, thank you very much for doing this tedious work.  It is very useful.

But I never intended for you to do this -- I just thought maybe you have found the transcription elsewhere.  ;)

 

I would think that the value of a transcript is obvious to all, but for those few who don't get it:

  • Much faster to read than watch/listen to the video
  • Provides a quotable source
  • More likely that people will read than spend a hour to listen
  • Becomes searchable when you add it to your Evernote account
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It's a challenge to create a vision, shape it over time, articulate it, and try to adjust the wording to fit changing circumstances. This video by Andrew Sinkov gives some insight into how the process has unfolded at Evernote.

 

 

I have some extremely strong thoughts about what has happened, because I bought into the original metaphors ("remember everything" and your "external brain"), and the new one ("one workspace") leaves me behind. The "work" they have in mind is not my "work," and I would prefer to have seen them achieve success with the original objective, which no one else out there can deliver (at least, not on every major platform). They were pioneers in attempting this ("remember everything"), but they aren't pioneers in making a "workspace" for me -- everyone seems to be trying to take a swing at Microsoft these days and I don't know of anyone else who has gone as far as them towards realizing the "remember everything" metaphor. If you are still invested in this original vision of an "external brain," you'll probably have to commit to a single operating system (Mac seems the best at the moment) on the desktop (there are workarounds for mobile, but they are clunky). I've expressed my thoughts many times in public on these forums and private, so I won't belabor the point here :)

 

Anyhow, the good news for users is that Evernote does have a clear vision, which puts it ahead of a lot of other services, and they are enthusiastically invested in making it work. It may not be the same as the original vision. In fact, it is an entire redefinition of the service. They've evolved, as Andrew says. But, as in the beginning, it continues to be innovative. That's good to see. I'll definitely continue recommending Evernote to others (not "shoving it down their throats"!), because I think there are many people whose work would benefit from it. 

 

You think this is a clear vision?!? To me this sounds like a bunch of people who have no idea at all what they want to do but only that they want to do something "important." So 100 million users who want to take notes is really about something else?!? It's not possible 100 million people need an effective note and information management program?!? As a psychotherapist, the biggest thing I got out of this video is that these people have some sort of grandiosity complex; they're not happy providing a really effective tool that helps 100 million people. That's such a trivial pursuit. Instead, they're going to move on to something that's actually important. Not that they or anyone else really has any idea what that might be. It doesn't involve a metaphor involving paper but somehow it involves a metaphor about museums. But it really shouldn't involve metaphors at all. That is, until it needs to involve metaphors. Wow! These people have no idea at all what it is they are doing. Clearly they stumbled into the success that is Evernote but now just as clearly they're going to ignore what they've actually accomplished with that to accomplish some other more "important" something or other because note-taking just isn't "important" or "cool" or "hip" enough.

 

Watching this video makes me realize I need to find some other note-taking and information app ASAP as these people are completely clueless about how things actually work out in the real world.

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@MMcKaibab - I don't agree with you but understand where your frustration stems from.  Honestly, you sound like the 'doubter' character from a tech related biopic oscar contender.  I work in a field where we NEVER have it figured out ... because it's simply impossible to.  It keeps you on your feet and it keeps the job exciting ... so I'm grateful for always having to redefine and figure 'it' out.  This doesn't mean I'm clueless or that anyone else on my team is clueless.  It's just the nature of the beast.  And not every 'beast' you admire in life will function like your profession, where everything might more/less maintain its definition.  Don't be a hater because you can't relate to something... it's not the end of the world and doesn't need to be a reason for you to vacate a service you otherwise liked.  You can wait until January 15' for vacating ... once EN gambles our loyalty away on their premium membership rate increase.

 

 

 

 

It's a challenge to create a vision, shape it over time, articulate it, and try to adjust the wording to fit changing circumstances. This video by Andrew Sinkov gives some insight into how the process has unfolded at Evernote.

 

 

I have some extremely strong thoughts about what has happened, because I bought into the original metaphors ("remember everything" and your "external brain"), and the new one ("one workspace") leaves me behind. The "work" they have in mind is not my "work," and I would prefer to have seen them achieve success with the original objective, which no one else out there can deliver (at least, not on every major platform). They were pioneers in attempting this ("remember everything"), but they aren't pioneers in making a "workspace" for me -- everyone seems to be trying to take a swing at Microsoft these days and I don't know of anyone else who has gone as far as them towards realizing the "remember everything" metaphor. If you are still invested in this original vision of an "external brain," you'll probably have to commit to a single operating system (Mac seems the best at the moment) on the desktop (there are workarounds for mobile, but they are clunky). I've expressed my thoughts many times in public on these forums and private, so I won't belabor the point here :)

 

Anyhow, the good news for users is that Evernote does have a clear vision, which puts it ahead of a lot of other services, and they are enthusiastically invested in making it work. It may not be the same as the original vision. In fact, it is an entire redefinition of the service. They've evolved, as Andrew says. But, as in the beginning, it continues to be innovative. That's good to see. I'll definitely continue recommending Evernote to others (not "shoving it down their throats"!), because I think there are many people whose work would benefit from it. 

 

You think this is a clear vision?!? To me this sounds like a bunch of people who have no idea at all what they want to do but only that they want to do something "important." So 100 million users who want to take notes is really about something else?!? It's not possible 100 million people need an effective note and information management program?!? As a psychotherapist, the biggest thing I got out of this video is that these people have some sort of grandiosity complex; they're not happy providing a really effective tool that helps 100 million people. That's such a trivial pursuit. Instead, they're going to move on to something that's actually important. Not that they or anyone else really has any idea what that might be. It doesn't involve a metaphor involving paper but somehow it involves a metaphor about museums. But it really shouldn't involve metaphors at all. That is, until it needs to involve metaphors. Wow! These people have no idea at all what it is they are doing. Clearly they stumbled into the success that is Evernote but now just as clearly they're going to ignore what they've actually accomplished with that to accomplish some other more "important" something or other because note-taking just isn't "important" or "cool" or "hip" enough.

 

Watching this video makes me realize I need to find some other note-taking and information app ASAP as these people are completely clueless about how things actually work out in the real world.

 

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Clearly they stumbled into the success that is Evernote but now just as clearly they're going to ignore what they've actually accomplished with that to accomplish some other more "important" something or other because note-taking just isn't "important" or "cool" or "hip" enough.

 

Watching this video makes me realize I need to find some other note-taking and information app ASAP as these people are completely clueless about how things actually work out in the real world.

My impression is that Evernote has always been about something bigger than notetaking. Frankly speaking, there are better notetaking apps out there and always have been. For example, I much prefer BBEdit (Mac) for simple notetaking because it gives me fine-grain control: every space is accounted for (by showing items that are usually invisible), it supports markdown, find and replace exists, and the search is astounding (recently updated to be even more so).

But, it only works on the Mac. It only does text. It isn't very easy to manage tens of thousands of notes. The app is probably best-suited for coders and people who want to have as much functionality as possible at their fingertips. I've written in these forums and on my blog about other wonderful notetaking and information apps out there. Evernote since at least 2008 has hung its hat on the aspiration to help us "remember everything" and they amazingly managed to support every major platform, so you didn't have to worry anymore about moving among different operating systems. To me, this seemed like a unique niche that they carved out for themselves. My interpretation of this original vision was that they wanted to be an information management service (not just notetaking, not just storage) for everything I wanted to remember, and that their goal was to get as close as possible to creating an "external brain" (their words). I think this was incredibly ambitious, and this was the vision that has inspired me to invest so much time and energy into the service over the last six years (here on the forums, on my blog, in my account, etc.).

Having grand aspirations is nothing new for Evernote, and I think we all expected them to make adjustments along the way, because they were pioneers. What's new, in my opinion, is the goal. Personally, I am not inspired at all by this new workplace vision, because my personal life isn't a workplace, and my workplace doesn't even remotely resemble the one they have in mind. I wouldn't mind if they continued with the original vision and somehow layered this on top, like a visionary sandwich. But, that isn't going to happen.

Evernote surely did this for a reason. I suspect it had something to do with monetization as they try to move towards an eventual IPO. I figure that Evernote knows what's best for their company, though I don't think they know what is best for me. I expect they will continue to be tremendously successful, because they are talented, hard-working, and have a clear vision for the future. I am also certain there are plenty of people out there who will greatly benefit from the new re-imagining of the company.

Unfortunately, it sounds like you may not be one of them. Do give it a try, though, safe in the knowledge that Evernote is also committed to making your data easily portable if needed.

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I do get a bit of what McKaibab is saying... Parts of the talk do come across as he described... And initially it did to me... But taken as a whole and trying to see things from the perspective of their new vision... It doesn't seem as threatening to those who would simply like to continue with the core product we've had until now.

By that I mean that with the 2 big features that have rolled out (Work Chat + Contexts), one can simply ignore them if they are not found to be useful. GM is right when he says that Evernote has been more than just about note taking. Contexts, for one, I see as simply an extension of the "Related notes" feature that has been around for a while, both in-app and related notes associated with the Web clipper... And not to forget the "Google Simultaneous Search", activated through the clipper as well. Contexts is just a natural evolution of that. It can be turned on and off.

I think we can pretty much continue with our note taking within the broader vision EN now has. It's broad enough to encapsulate the "Remember Everything" / "External Brain" modus operandi... And one does not have to venture off into the work space they're implementing if it is not desired... At least not on desktop as of yet.

I rather enjoy GM's layered "Visionary Sandwich" (But not sure why you say, GM, that it's not going to happen)... and Andrew Sinkov hints at that when he says that you can still put "Everything" into Evernote... But what they're aiming at doing is surfacing the stuff you put in and connecting dots (if you choose). We'll still be able to remember everything. It seems more like a re-branding with some interesting features to back it up than a clean slate. The old seems to be contained within the new. **Just don't freakin' take my Public Notebooks away and I'll be a happy camper :-0

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Yep. For a lot of workflows, enough of the old will stick around to make it work and the new won't be obtrusive enough to cause any problems. For these users, Evernote is pretty much perfect. But, as far as "everything," and "second brain" goes, I guess it hasn't gotten there yet, and I am a little sad to see that now that it looks like it never will.

You can't put "everything" into it, and you never could, unless "everything" you had was less than 100,000 items in bite-sized bits smaller than 100 MB a piece stored on a computer with an enterprise-sized local drive. And, as a practical matter, I haven't heard of anyone who can navigate or smoothly operate an account with more than 60,000 or so notes, so I think there is a long way to go yet towards this vision. I have limited myself to around 10,000 or so items in my Evernote account out of the "everything" I have amassed.

http://www.christopher-mayo.com/?p=2033

Evernote has gotten really far, though, and, contrary to Andrew's lack of enthusiasm about notetaking, I have been pretty excited to see it pushing the boundaries over the years. Seriously -- do you know of any other app in the world on iOS that can search through massive amounts of data, even when offline? It's astounding what they have managed to do.

Alas! I fear my enthusiasm for notetaking and information management is trumped by other people's enthusiasm for workplaces. Such is life. Life is work for the rest of the world, I guess.

As far as a visionary sandwich goes, I think they bit off enough just trying to make me an external brain, so I doubt they can (or, judging by what Andrew said) want to do both. They'll be enough overlap between the two visions to satisfy many users, I am sure. It's good to know where things stand, and I expect a lot of people will benefit from the work they are doing, so good on them for continuing to innovate.

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The biggest issue I have with Evernote is trust.  

 

I no longer feel safe that I can continue to enter my "memories", information that is critical to me, and believe that I can count on Evernote to continue to provide the service I signed up for, that as my note count and database size increase over the years, that I will be able to quickly and easily retrieve this information.

 

I have no problem with CEO Phil Libin envisioning new, great, wondrous things that might (or might not) revolutionize how we manage our increasingly overload of information.  I just don't want him, or anyone else, dictating to me how I should do things.

 

He truly needs to realize that the more users Evernote has, the more diverse the mind set and needs will become.  So he needs to provide us with options, preference settings.  His statement "When you're in a design session, if the answer is 'make that configurable, put in a preference for this', that's almost always not the right answer. It's the lazy way out: you're leaving it up to the user to do the work of figuring things out." is completely misguided.  It is VERY arrogant to think that he, or any designer, will always know what is best for everyone.  As arrogant as Steve Jobs was, he realized that he still needed to provide a significant amount of freedom (preferences) for his customers/users.

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But, the minute you start pulling on that thread, you realize that that's just fundamentally false. That can't be true because your garden is not nearly as important as your company that you're starting. It's just isn't. But, over the past 5/6 years, this is what we did. What we did, was we said, "A person that's planning out their garden... planning out a remodel is literally as important as the person who is about to do something crazy great"

 

And this is *precisely* where he lost me. What an incredibly judgmental and elitist perspective! So Evernote is now only going to be about people wanting to do something "crazy great" (whatever that means)?!? Lovely. So out of 100 million users just exactly how many do they expect that to be? Talk about elitist claptrap! They have got this completely bass-ackwards. A company that truly wants to be useful and make a mark would actually say your garden is just as important as the company you're starting. These folks seem to be almost completely involved in mental masturbation instead of finding out what their customers need and trying to serve that. Definitely looks like I'm going to need to find some other info capturing and organization tool because these folks at Evernote are clearly not interested in how what they do serves their customers.

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But, the minute you start pulling on that thread, you realize that that's just fundamentally false. That can't be true because your garden is not nearly as important as your company that you're starting. It's just isn't. But, over the past 5/6 years, this is what we did. What we did, was we said, "A person that's planning out their garden... planning out a remodel is literally as important as the person who is about to do something crazy great"

 

And this is *precisely* where he lost me. What an incredibly judgmental and elitist perspective! So Evernote is now only going to be about people wanting to do something "crazy great" (whatever that means)?!? Lovely. So out of 100 million users just exactly how many do they expect that to be? Talk about elitist claptrap! They have got this completely bass-ackwards. A company that truly wants to be useful and make a mark would actually say your garden is just as important as the company you're starting. These folks seem to be almost completely involved in mental masturbation instead of finding out what their customers need and trying to serve that. Definitely looks like I'm going to need to find some other info capturing and organization tool because these folks at Evernote are clearly not interested in how what they do serves their customers.

 

 

There does seem to be a bigger picture that absorbs the bluntness of a couple of comments there... but not entirely. There are a few glaring points I disagree with, which he might look back on shortly and grimace. For now, I'm not getting caught up in individual comments that may or may not have been improvised on the spot... however the points you mention do seem to be fairly consistent throughout. 

 

BTW, listen to the answer to the question right at the end. Andrew gets asked a pointed question about whether folk that use Evernote to plan their gardening are no longer important to them... but he focuses more on the "work" aspect that is common to all... and adds that you can do those sorts of things too - that of course the 70% of people who use EN for their work, also use it for hobbies and the like. 

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@MMcKaibab - I don't agree with you but understand where your frustration stems from.  Honestly, you sound like the 'doubter' character from a tech related biopic oscar contender.  I work in a field where we NEVER have it figured out ... because it's simply impossible to.  It keeps you on your feet and it keeps the job exciting ... so I'm grateful for always having to redefine and figure 'it' out.  This doesn't mean I'm clueless or that anyone else on my team is clueless.  It's just the nature of the beast.  And not every 'beast' you admire in life will function like your profession, where everything might more/less maintain its definition.  Don't be a hater because you can't relate to something... it's not the end of the world and doesn't need to be a reason for you to vacate a service you otherwise liked.  You can wait until January 15' for vacating ... once EN gambles our loyalty away on their premium membership rate increase.

 

 

 

 

It's a challenge to create a vision, shape it over time, articulate it, and try to adjust the wording to fit changing circumstances. This video by Andrew Sinkov gives some insight into how the process has unfolded at Evernote.

 

 

I have some extremely strong thoughts about what has happened, because I bought into the original metaphors ("remember everything" and your "external brain"), and the new one ("one workspace") leaves me behind. The "work" they have in mind is not my "work," and I would prefer to have seen them achieve success with the original objective, which no one else out there can deliver (at least, not on every major platform). They were pioneers in attempting this ("remember everything"), but they aren't pioneers in making a "workspace" for me -- everyone seems to be trying to take a swing at Microsoft these days and I don't know of anyone else who has gone as far as them towards realizing the "remember everything" metaphor. If you are still invested in this original vision of an "external brain," you'll probably have to commit to a single operating system (Mac seems the best at the moment) on the desktop (there are workarounds for mobile, but they are clunky). I've expressed my thoughts many times in public on these forums and private, so I won't belabor the point here :)

 

Anyhow, the good news for users is that Evernote does have a clear vision, which puts it ahead of a lot of other services, and they are enthusiastically invested in making it work. It may not be the same as the original vision. In fact, it is an entire redefinition of the service. They've evolved, as Andrew says. But, as in the beginning, it continues to be innovative. That's good to see. I'll definitely continue recommending Evernote to others (not "shoving it down their throats"!), because I think there are many people whose work would benefit from it. 

 

You think this is a clear vision?!? To me this sounds like a bunch of people who have no idea at all what they want to do but only that they want to do something "important." So 100 million users who want to take notes is really about something else?!? It's not possible 100 million people need an effective note and information management program?!? As a psychotherapist, the biggest thing I got out of this video is that these people have some sort of grandiosity complex; they're not happy providing a really effective tool that helps 100 million people. That's such a trivial pursuit. Instead, they're going to move on to something that's actually important. Not that they or anyone else really has any idea what that might be. It doesn't involve a metaphor involving paper but somehow it involves a metaphor about museums. But it really shouldn't involve metaphors at all. That is, until it needs to involve metaphors. Wow! These people have no idea at all what it is they are doing. Clearly they stumbled into the success that is Evernote but now just as clearly they're going to ignore what they've actually accomplished with that to accomplish some other more "important" something or other because note-taking just isn't "important" or "cool" or "hip" enough.

 

Watching this video makes me realize I need to find some other note-taking and information app ASAP as these people are completely clueless about how things actually work out in the real world.

 

 

I, too, work in a field where we NEVER have it all figured out. However, that realization makes those of us who are good at this field rather humble and intensely interested in the experience of those we serve. Those of use who navel gaze and seek to do things we consider "important" are typically the ones who lose the way in our self-involved grasping after "importance" and end up harming those we serve and, ultimately, our profession. What I'm seeing from this video and this Evernote beta is a group of people who are so intently focused on their own grasping after "importance" that they're ignoring (if not actually betraying) all those folks who have helped make them the success they are. I'm not a "hater" and I certainly don't consider this the "end of the world." I've been around a long time, have seen massive change in the world of software. So I've made the move from one software to another innumerable times. I just think it's a pity that some folks who have done something useful end up messing the whole thing up because, as they say, they start to believe in their notices. From the new beta to the video, it clearly seems to me the Evernote people now have a pretty inflated view of themselves. I'm not abandoning Evernote . . . yet. But I am certainly actively looking for an alternative because I've got a bad feeling that Evernote no longer has any interest at all in the business and the customers that have made them what they are.

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[ . . .] "A person that's planning out their garden... planning out a remodel is literally as important as the person who is about to do something crazy great"

 

And this is *precisely* where he lost me. What an incredibly judgmental and elitist perspective! [ . . .]

 

I think I know what he is saying.  The Gardener is the hobbyist, the sole proprietor running his business, the scientist doing extensive researcher -- all of these people are just paying $45.00 a year and they don't give a c**p about these people any more because that's chicken feed to them. The people "about to do something crazy great" --  they all work for businesses who pay $10.00 a head a month for every head in the company, just scale that to every business in the world and the "about to do something crazy great" is the image of Evernote tapping $10.00 a head on on every worker in the world (who ins;t a sole proprietor)  in a business per month

 

They no longer care about being the archive for all your information they just want to be the portal for facilitating the next few projects on the books of the companies and once that is done these companies will move the archival info into some more traditional storage databases.

 

So they are going to ***** the "eveyrman" for the brass ring of nabbing all of business -- All development is now in the service of Evernote Business

 

that's what he said between the lines.

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Are they going to take away my tags? 

 

Is the sky falling?

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How many years ago did I post that the devs are more focused on things to sell/markets to expand into a note keeper for Mac that allows easy export?

 

What a massive disappointment Evernote has been. Do I believe this functionality would be impossible or even difficult to include? Not for a hot second. The idea is clearly to get you into the Evernote world ... where the claustrophobia is palpable. I suppose the idea is to drive us toward Premium.  But this pressure is even more annoying and relentless than an iPhone in-app ad. 

 

Sell me a terrific app. I'd buy it out front. But this business model stinks, I don't care how many conferences and videos imply the opposite. Read your forum, or have someone explain it to you: this one is full of pleas that no great app accumulates. 

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Are they going to take away my tags? 

 

Is the sky falling?

 

Chicken feed... Sky falling.

 

Did you by any chance clip the previous comment to your EN... AND have a Tech Crunch article (or Wikipedia article one of your Colleagues had) on Chicken Little surface in order to connect the dots?

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Nah. My own internal brain "surfaced" it for me... :)

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Feature request:

 

  • Allow people to include their own customizable tagline somewhere prominent in the app.  :D
    • That way, people could stick with, "Remember Everything" (Which I quite like), even if the actual tagline were something like "Your Work Space".

I'm not trying to make light of this... I might be oversimplifying things here (notwithstanding the practical implications for some with the new Web beta), but, for the most part, it seems like it may just be a war of words and image re-branding. Purported delusions of grandeur aside, when it comes to the actual nuts and bolts of the Evernote service, how much does the new vision really detract from one's ability to choose to stick to inherently being a note taker? Gripes and real issues that users have had over the last months and years would not automatically get resolved or go away even if Evernote were to stick to it's original focus. We might even be pleasantly surprised to discover just around the corner, that issues we had under the old vision will, as a matter of course, be fixed and improved upon.

 

On the ground, for example, there is an imminent platform-wide standardization of the note/ text editor underway, which has already reached Mac. Re-sizing of images inline, etc. That is not to say that the change of vision will not see a regression of some features - for example, possibly Public notebooks going away (who knows?) - but what I'm really trying to get a grasp on, is "what, practically does this mean for all existing features?" Is there really anything significant that's going to get rolled back in terms of being able to excel at "just" being a note-taker? Any spanners in the works besides the aesthetics of not being able to hide a Work Chat icon on mobile devices for those who are not interested?

 

Despite some excerpts from the video that might get many peoples' backs up, would it really matter if Evernote inadvertently made me to feel like a third-class citizen (if I were using EN for gardening), when in all practicality I have the same rights (access/ features) as an entrepreneur. I would simply keep on with my gardening projects in Evernote regardless... and shrug off the possible offense. 

 

Practically... if EN pushes all out to be a "Work Space"... once again, "Work" may, in great part, be a matter of semantics: Take, for example, GTD: David Allen defines a project as "any commitment that takes more than one step to complete" (Incidentally, David Allen does not distinguish between work and play). So, in that sense, I could take anything of significance to me to be my work. Although David would say that buying a slackline online is a project, to me it doesn't feel like one... but I understand his terminology for practical intents and purposes. In the same light, one can continue to use Evernote's reimagined/ reinvented "Work Space" to be your space for whatever you're doing - or not. I prefer to use WorkFlowy and Gingko app for a significant part of what I do. So you could just choose to forego what might just be unnecessary frills.

 

At least that's what I'm trying to convince myself of!  :P

 

Now, in practical terms (actual features), it would be an interesting exercise to outline what, specifically, we have lost/ might be losing (from the note-taking perspective) - in order to separate the conceptual from the practical - both present as well as the up-and-coming. At present, I personally am not affected in any way. But those of you who've come up against anything significant... it'd be great to sort of quantify it. As far as I am aware, these are the practical things that have already impacted/ may impact peoples' workflow/ modus operandi:

  1. New Web beta interface (a marked downgrade for those who rely on the Web client)
  2. The tentative status of Public notebooks (although I'm holding thumbs on this one)
  3. ......

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[ . . . ]

 

  • Allow people to include their own customizable tagline somewhere prominent in the app.  :D
    • That way, people could stick with, "Remember Everything" (Which I quite like), even if the actual tagline were something like "Your Work Space".

I'm not trying to make light of this... I might be oversimplifying things here [ . . .]

 

 

uh huh,

 

Mission Statements matter, Frank.dg -- if they are  written correctly. They indicate where the company is headed, or in my case, they tell me where they are no longer headed.

 

I don't know how active of a user you are, but Evernote is the first program I turn on in the morning and its the last program that gets closed on the desktop. I am using it constantly, all day, every day, 24/7 365. Besides word processing, Besides electronic spreadsheets, Evernote (to me) is the most awesome program on the planet. I have 6,000+ notes and 90% are substantial meaningful information to me, not just random web clippings, or receipts from Starbucks. It is the most versatile VISUAL database that you can almost put anything in it and  . . . . ..  YOU CAN FIND IT AGAIN.

 

I need Evernote -- I need to  "remember everything" and I need an  "external brain". Using Evernote for years every day the symbiotic relationship to me being able to access IMPORTANT information is critical -- to get to this information I need the functionality of the current desktops. This program in its current state is SO FREAKING AWESOME. To loose all that functionality for a "Workspace"????. though they have every right to do whatever they want, is just a crying shame.

 

This is important to me and important to MILLIONS of users. I have to start planning a backup plan now -- and I HATE THAT. Just more time wasted leaning a new system grrrrrrrrrr and I was finally right in the sweet spot of intuitively understanding EXACTLY how Evernote works for me -- what it can do and what it can't do with a critical mass of information in the database to be of real use to me. and now that is seriously threatened to be gone.

 

Ugggggggggggg

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I might be oversimplifying things here (notwithstanding the practical implications for some with the new Web beta), but, for the most part, it seems like it may just be a war of words and image re-branding. Purported delusions of grandeur aside, when it comes to the actual nuts and bolts of the Evernote service, how much does the new vision really detract from one's ability to choose to stick to inherently being a note taker?......

 

 

Frank, perhaps it is to some degree "a war of words", but the words being used by CEO Phil Libin and VP Andrew Sinkov did not give me confidence that Evernote will continue to address the issues with the current product.  In fact, their words suggest to me that they are not that much interested in making the current product work really well.  They would much rather focus and put the efforts of their developers toward these new grandiose ideas.

 

There are a number of major issues today with Evernote that need the immediate attention of Evernote senior management and their development teams:

  1. Sync Issues
    1. many sync issues are being reported daily across all platforms.
    2. Some may be due to user error, but I believe that there are some serious bugs and/or design issues with sync
    3. Sync must be bullet-proof (like "save"), and should be designed to avoid/prevent most user errors
    4. Without reliable sync, the value of Evernote to me goes way down
  2. Scalability
    1. Issues with larger accounts (number of notes, database size) have been reported for months now, maybe well over a year
    2. If we use Evernote for a lifetime, as Evernote has promoted, then we all will reach large account sizes at some point -- it is just a matter of time.  And, over time, we will have more Notes than can fit on our internal drives.
    3. As part of scalability, Evernote must provide options for the desktop versions to store some/all notes in external drives, including NAS, and to provide selective sync by Notebook.
    4. Scalability, like sync, must be rock-solid
  3. Security
    1. We really need zero-knowledge encryption by Notebook
    2. Every day we learn of new security breaches which we need to protect against

So, my concern is that Evernote will lose focus on fixing/improving the current product as they pursue "bending the universe".

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Mission Statements matter, Frank.dg -- if they are  written correctly. They indicate where the company is headed, or in my case, they tell me where they are no longer headed.

 

I don't know how active of a user you are, but Evernote is the first program I turn on in the morning and its the last program that gets closed on the desktop. I am using it constantly, all day, every day, 24/7 365. Besides word processing, Besides electronic spreadsheets, Evernote (to me) is the most awesome program on the planet. I have 6,000+ notes and 90% are substantial meaningful information to me, not just random web clippings, or receipts from Starbucks. It is the most versatile VISUAL database that you can almost put anything in it and  . . . . ..  YOU CAN FIND IT AGAIN.

 

I need Evernote -- I need to  "remember everything" and I need an  "external brain". Using Evernote for years every day the symbiotic relationship to me being able to access IMPORTANT information is critical -- to get to this information I need the functionality of the current desktops. This program in its current state is SO FREAKING AWESOME. To loose all that functionality for a "Workspace"????. though they have every right to do whatever they want, is just a crying shame.

 

This is important to me and important to MILLIONS of users. I have to start planning a backup plan now -- and I HATE THAT. Just more time wasted leaning a new system grrrrrrrrrr and I was finally right in the sweet spot of intuitively understanding EXACTLY how Evernote works for me -- what it can do and what it can't do with a critical mass of information in the database to be of real use to me. and now that is seriously threatened to be gone.

 

JohnDM, I think we're in the same boat by the looks of things, except I have branched out just a little, making use of WorkFlowy and Gingko app... but, Evernote is pretty darn important to me, with a little over 20,000 notes. The thing I'm trying to figure out is, apart from the change of Vision/ direction/ mission statement... to what degree will what we already do be affected? I don't see anything significant being rolled back... unless declaring the new mission gives them free reign to make massive surprise changes (to the features we currently have) unannounced and at regular intervals in a metamorphosis - and then to turn around and say, "Well, we told you so, didn't we?" But from this talk, there seems to be no indication of a scaling back of note-taking features. Someone pointed out elsewhere, that in fact, for collaboration to happen effectively, the note-taking/ storage features we have need to at least be maintained, if not improved - because it would stand to reason that collaboration is hinged on the access to "almost everything".

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Frank, perhaps it is to some degree "a war of words", but the words being used by CEO Phil Libin and VP Andrew Sinkov did not give me confidence that Evernote will continue to address the issues with the current product.  In fact, their words suggest to me that they are not that much interested in making the current product work really well.  They would much rather focus and put the efforts of their developers toward these new grandiose ideas.

 

 

So, my concern is that Evernote will lose focus on fixing/improving the current product as they pursue "bending the universe".

 

 

Thanks... that opens it up a bit for me. Very valid concerns all-'round, in light of not fixing/ improving the current product. 

 

The way the new vision was expressed left me a "little" unsettled. It just didn't sit right. But as I try to make heads or tails of what was said - the thought does occur to me that perhaps a shift in vision is more to highlight the shiny new features they rolled out, as part of where they're focusing on and developing. Andrew did offer a tidbit of sense when he said that one could still put "everything" into Evernote, even with the new work space thing. Just that they wanted to help surface the right information within that "everything". 

 

The question in my mind, though, is whether we will see much of a regress in actual functionality, aside from the new Web interface.

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This post where I've repeatedly quoted one of Frank.dg's on this thread, is addressed as usual, to everyone, but in particular to Evernote staff such as GBarry and Charboyd

Despite my fears of what direction EN seems to be moving in, and despite several gripes I've publicly expressed here on the Forum in recent months, I am still hoping I'm wrong in thinking they are abandoning the very users that were so crucial to the enormous growth. Individual users that use Evernote for pretty much everything in their lives, from taking work notes, to planning travel, to organizing their household and various other aspects of their personal and professional lives.

It's true that I am one of those who is looking elsewhere for an Evernote replacement, [bUT] so far I've not found anything the even comes close to three of the major reasons I quickly fell in love with Evernote:

1) The cross-platform ability to create new Notes and to view and edit existing ones.

2) The powerful Search ability that lets me quickly find notes I made so long ago I can only vaguely recall what they were about.

3) Despite the problems I still find - as explained in detail below - that it truly has worked very well for me as my external brain until the last few months...where I've held off depending so much on it just in case Evernote has decided to abandon it's current, core users, in favour of the one they are going after now in the corporate world.

My use case is perhaps unique compared to many other users on the Forum. I have Multiple Sclerosis (MS), which plays havoc with my short and long-term memory, as well as my information processing speed and skill.

As I said, despite some issues with Evernote's note-taking - which seems to be a long standing issue with a stable Rich Text Editor that is compatible across all the clients, and I hear has been vastly improved on the Mac version - and the general confusion and fears about where the company is heading, it is still, by far, the best solution I've yet found to address my needs.

And, if I can get answers to the below questions and concerns, I would happily start paying for it. (By the way, I sent a PM to GBarry about a week ago, regarding paying monthly via PayPal and have not yet heard back.) So on with the show now...

Yes, what Frank.dg says here:

...when it comes to the actual nuts and bolts of the Evernote service, how much does the new vision really detract from one's ability to choose to stick to inherently being a note taker?...

I would really like to hear a definitive and comphrehensive answer about exactly this from Evernote Staff!

AND about the below questions:

➡ When will the new and improved Text Editor be rolled out to other clients? (In my case, Android and Windows.)

➡ There are several complaints on the Forum right now that Premium Users are either having to wait much longer than the promised 24 hours for Tech Support and/or that if and when they do, it's proven to be a frustrating and unhelpful response.

Is EN also restructuring it's Support System or is there another reason for what Premium users are seeing as a serious decline in the speed and quality of Product Tech Support? Does whatever is going on have to do with the shift in the company's goal to become a major player in the corporate world?

Gripes and real issues that users have had over the last months and years would not automatically get resolved or go away even if Evernote were to stick to it's original focus...

That is not to say that the change of vision will not see a regression of some features - for example, possibly Public notebooks going away (who knows?)

See, I DO care about this issue of regression - as I'm quite sure many other users do, including a very large portion of Premium Users and possibly even some Business Users as well - want to know if the long standing issues like:

➡ Better cross-client compatabilty so notes and/or the formatting in notes, doesn't get garbled up when created on one client (device) and later opened to view or add to, or edit it one a different client.

➡ When will the scalabilty issue finally if ever be addressed. Even in the new blurb on the KB, Evernote is still saying it can handle up to 100,000 note, but it's not true and never was!

The newest announcement/interview with Phil Libin mentions something about it's not enough to "best note-taking software out there," he want EN to more. (No, I don't recall the exact wording and am too tired to look for it, so have paraphrased from memory.)

Here's the thing, EN is not the best...as note taking goes, it's not even good. As it stands right now on the two clients I use, Windows and Android, it's downright crappy. BUT with a good, stable across all plarforms (clients), it COULD become awesome at note taking!

If Evernote were to:

* Improve the Syncing issues that are cropping up so often in the last several months

* Fix the scalability issue to reflect what EN has been promising, but not delivering on, from day one (100,000 notes).

* Introduce a stable Rich Text Editor across all clients/platforms.

* Promise to not arbitrarily remove or significantly alter feature that many folks use regularly in their workflow, without at least giving paying users the opportunity to find a different way to adjust their workflow.

* Return Support for paying users to what it was until about a year ago - which I've heard from many long-time users who depend heavily on Evernote, was great!

Do these things - or at the very least tell us what your plans are regarding them - and I think you would a much more devoted paying consumer base in your existing customers, and that it would continue to grow at a rapid pace, consisting of people from a wide range of use cases. Including, but not limited to: students, teachers, public and private administrators (from clerical staff running a small business office to large corporations & organizations - data creation, storage & retrieval is HUGE in every business, even non-profits), and other individuals wanting or needing a way to remember and track a wide range of data.

Despite some excerpts from the video that might get many peoples' backs up, would it really matter if Evernote inadvertently made me to feel like a third-class citizen...

Well, it certainly had that effect on me!

Now, in practical terms (actual features), it would be an interesting exercise to outline what, specifically, we have lost/ might be losing (from the note-taking perspective) - in order to separate the conceptual from the practical - both present as well as the up-and-coming. At present, I personally am not affected in any way. But those of you who've come up against anything significant... it'd be great to sort of quantify it. As far as I am aware, these are the practical things that have already impacted/ may impact peoples' workflow/ modus operandi:
  • New Web beta interface (a marked downgrade for those who rely on the Web client)
  • The tentative status of Public notebooks (although I'm holding thumbs on this one)
  • ......

I believe I basically said the thing earlier in this reply, but to emphasize the importance of such issues to many, many users, I'll state again here that having actual EN staff jump in to answer Frank's specific questions as quoted above - and mine, which are interspersed between truncated quotes of Frank's original post - would be greatly appreciated!

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A corporate vision might sound like empty words, but they are not, especially at a company like Evernote, where it is obvious (to me, at least) that they are designing with the vision in mind, and have been for a while now, so changing it matters when you are thinking about the future of your "everything."

Evernote is unlikely to abandon syncing and notes available on every major platform, so many users probably are unaffected by any change in the vision, but that is a red herring, because others, especially Premium and Business ones, are dramatically impacted when finite resources are shifted away from one project to another or features are removed. Yes. Many features have been removed over the years. Some of these decisions, I suspect, related to this new vision. The abandonment of excellent support for Free users was probably one such casualty.

I am not screaming about the sky falling here. Evernote is working fine. I'm simply acknowledging what has happened in the past, what is happening in the present, and speculating about what this means for the future, which is presumably our biggest concern as we think about how much the return will be on our investment of time and effort into the app. If we depend on publicly shared notebooks, for example, and these have suddenly disappeared, or may disappear at any time, because they no longer fit the vision, then the vision has real world consequences. If you are waiting around for "sexy" encryption that was supposed to already be in place by this time last year, then you are probably out of luck, because Phil hasn't talked about it for about a year and a half now, and resources are clearly being poured instead into presentations and collaboration, which my "external brain" really doesn't need, but someone else's workplace might.

Evernote ought to change its vision if they feel it is necessary, and they ought to abandon publicly shared notebooks or sexy encryption if it doesn't fit their vision. I am lamenting the loss of the old vision. As always, I am amazed by their hard work and dedication to improving the service, even if I disagree with some decisions. They take this stuff seriously. I think, at least in the case of Evernote, we shouldn't dismiss what they say as mere words (if words can ever really be mere).

But, I am a professor in the humanities, and my research is on mission statements (kind of -- oaths, laws, and precepts espoused by warlords in sixteenth century Japan), so I am predisposed to attach value to such things :)

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Evernote has rethought the core of its business, drilling down on work and businesses, rather than consumer note-taking. “We’re about work. Last year we made he decision to really focus on work. We don’t really talk about Evernote [as something] for your hobbies any more,” he said. “What’s the biggest impact we can have? We realised that the biggest impact we can have is have work suck less.”

AKA - Now that we've used the masses as a vehicle to build the brand through WOM, it's time to go where the money is. It's all about the green after all and very important to see through the rhetoric produced by tech companies. "Super", "Amazing, "Kowabunga" are clues we're getting close to Zuckerberg personality. Have we been let down by yet another tech giant? 

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Some would argue that there is no distinction between work and play. Such as GTD's David Allen. We simply have a series of self-chosen commitments which may or may not have related reference material - whether it's clipping a web article on how to produce compost... or clipping inspirational images or info. related to the design/ business strategy of your startup bakery. Most entrepreneurs and business people also have some hobbies they take seriously. They want Evernote to cater to all areas of information... whether they'd like to collaborate or not. I know I do. 

 

Having said that, I think Evernote is simply layering on this work space vision. I think they need to expand to where the money is... whether it's socks or business collaboration. It seems to me to be a re-branding rather than a rolling back of the note-taking capabilities we've enjoyed all along.

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I think the majority of EN users just want a simple note taking software that works with multiple devices and can be accessed without resistance. Simple meaning, easy to use and just works. Marketing can glorify such things as much as they like with buzzwords, it's just data that as individuals or businesses we need to know it can be recorded easily, is safe and easy to locate as and when required. My thoughts anyway.  

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It is so frustrating to me, to have Evernote *decide* that the thing I need from it is a work space, a collaboration space and presentation space. None of those things is what I use Evernote for. I already had a strong use for Evernote, and "Redefining what Evernote does" is just making Evernote obsolete to me.

 
I don't *care* if you, or your app "care" whether my work is good. Stop trying to decide what tools I need. That's my job.
 
I'm sorry that you decided that Evernote is for making me "better." That's not what I came to your company for.
 
Despite the fact that "the world has changed," my work still requires a note-taking app. Evernote was a note-taking app. It was the best one. Now that you've decided it's something else, I probably won't be able to continue to use it. I need a *notetaking* app.
 
I have been debating moving into premium in order to support the software that's become so important to my processes. I won't be doing that now, at least until I can confirm that note-taking as I already need it will continue to be supported and grown in the software.
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The Yin/Yang of it all:

 

Companies that make software are certainly entitled to make the tools that they want to build. If they don't make software that people don't want to use, then they probably go out of business.

 

Software users are certainly entitled to use the tools that work for them. If it doesn't work for you, then you should probably find something else.

 

As it happens, Evernote still functions just fine as a note and information collection application, with some secondary note-taking and to-do list capabilities. Adding Work Chat hasn't changed my workflow one iota.

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As it happens, Evernote still functions just fine as a note and information collection application, with some secondary note-taking and to-do list capabilities. Adding Work Chat hasn't changed my workflow one iota.

 

Well jefito, since you don't use EN Mac, maybe you're not aware of how the changes Evernote has made have seriously impacted the workflow of many of us.

 

Here's a great example:

 

 

 

I’ve been your premium user for a while now, but you don’t see me on these forums making feature requests often.

. . .

The problem is, you started to take things away. Somehow each major redesign you make adds a bunch of cool features that I don’t need and takes away something I actually care about.

. . .
The areas of the app had good contrast between each other. My eyes were landing on the target area right away, and with high contrast elements and proper buttons, finding things was intuitive and effortless. Now it’s gone. Now all I see is the sea of sameness and I don’t understand why.
. . .
How far do you think I can scroll before feeling dizzy? How easy it is to find an image I need when all I see is an awkward and often random fragment of it? Why... it's not like I'm demanding new things. It used to be there and worked.
 
Chat is a nice . . .. Context is probably useful . . ..
But I struggle to find any joy in these nice additions as the primary functionality of the app is deteriorating for me
 
As I have years invested in Evernote and it became a really important part of my workflow, I’m still grasping at straws and trying to cope with all the improvements you make.
. . .
Sorry, I’m generally not a person who throws hissy fits over the software, but previous redesign has upset me quite a bit and I really hoped that a new one would ease the pain, but you managed to make it even worse. Evernote is an important part of my life and work, so this situation upsets me more than a little.

 

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This is a general topic, not Mac-specific. and the Yin/Yang of software is cross-platform. If you have anything at all relevant to what I actually wrote, then feel free to say it. You haven't yet.

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I'm sorry that you decided that Evernote is for making me "better." That's not what I came to your company for.
 

 

I share the same sentiment. I'm a productivity geek and read all I can get my hands on. I know, not everyone is like that... but shucks... even those who just wing it do not expect the best piece of software to make them a better them. We simply look for the tools to help us along on our journey. Evernote is right up there as part of my workflow... but there are other incredible apps that are more part of my workflow when it comes to writing and organizing my brain: WorkFlowy and Gingko app to name just two. If Evernote cannot be everything to everyone, then they're assuming a lot if they intend to make us "better". Software was made to suit our needs... not the other way 'round. We shape software around our own needs. If it's not a good fit, we ship it out. I hope Evernote understands this. There is very seldom brand loyalty in the digital world these days... especially when a company gives reason not to be loyal.

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This is a general topic, not Mac-specific. and the Yin/Yang of software is cross-platform. If you have anything at all relevant to what I actually wrote, then feel free to say it. You haven't yet.

 

The very fact that this is a general topic should allow people to express themselves - for better or for worse - on any platform, including Mac. You wrote that WorkChat hadn't changed your workflow one iota. Then you're one of those sitting pretty. Not all are. This is not a Mac-specific topic... but iOS, the Web Beta, Penultimate and Mac do all individually form part of this general topic (and have all had Evernote users up in arms this year - in that order). If the Yin/Yang of software is cross-platform - we're also talking about Mac.

 

By the way, Android has recently had a major overhaul... that just leaves the Windows client (and the ever-so-silent Windows smartphone/ tablet). I freaking hope not. We'll have to wait and see. We'll have this conversation on the other side.

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This is a general topic, not Mac-specific. and the Yin/Yang of software is cross-platform. If you have anything at all relevant to what I actually wrote, then feel free to say it. You haven't yet.

 

Interesting that you bring up the cross-platform aspect, because part of my reason for posting earlier was the web beta - and the web client is in a way the most cross-platform way to use Evernote. If the web beta is any indication, the vision for the web client is much more aimed at content production than notetaking and collection/curation.

 

I'm actually using it on a linux-only laptop these days. Not everyone has recourse to a desktop client. In my case, Wine has a bug concerning an accessibility setting that makes programs basically unusable to me. If the web client can't show me my tags, notebooks, and notes in a fast, well-organized way, I will need a different product.

 

I'm no longer in the IT field, and I haven't heard much about the Yin/Yang of software - but you are correct that companies have a right to make the software they want to make. Evernote would not be the first company to decide who their desired customer is, and in doing that, leave some people out. It's understandable and it's sometimes good for the company.

 

Even so, I believe in speaking up when a product I love moves away from the features and functions I need.

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This is a general topic, not Mac-specific. and the Yin/Yang of software is cross-platform. If you have anything at all relevant to what I actually wrote, then feel free to say it. You haven't yet.

 

Interesting that you bring up the cross-platform aspect, because part of my reason for posting earlier was the web beta - and the web client is in a way the most cross-platform way to use Evernote. If the web beta is any indication, the vision for the web client is much more aimed at content production than notetaking and collection/curation.

 

I'm actually using it on a linux-only laptop these days. Not everyone has recourse to a desktop client. In my case, Wine has a bug concerning an accessibility setting that makes programs basically unusable to me. If the web client can't show me my tags, notebooks, and notes in a fast, well-organized way, I will need a different product.[

 

I'm no longer in the IT field, and I haven't heard much about the Yin/Yang of software - but you are correct that companies have a right to make the software they want to make. Evernote would not be the first company to decide who their desired customer is, and in doing that, leave some people out. It's understandable and it's sometimes good for the company.

 

Even so, I believe in speaking up when a product I love moves away from the features and functions I need.

 

The Yin/Yang is a metaphor that I just made up in the moment; it's really in reference to the dynamic (or tension) between a product maker's right to make the product that they want to make and a consumer's right to use it or not as it suits their needs. It's certainly fine for you to express what you want to them, in fact, Evernote encourages that. That's different from denying them the right to determine the direction of their product, which is how I read one part of your post above, which I ought to have quoted so that things were clearer, but didn't, for which I apologize,and I'll do so now:

 

I don't *care* if you, or your app "care" whether my work is good. Stop trying to decide what tools I need. That's my job.

 

I'm sorry that you decided that Evernote is for making me "better." That's not what I came to your company for.

The bit about "cross-platform" was not in response to anything that you said.

 

With respect to the web beta, I'm not convinced that the direction it's aiming is all that great, but as it's not finished yet, I'll withhold judgement on that. I'm also not convinced that Evernote needs to give up any note-taking ability to be a better collaboration tool. We'll see about that; as I said, in my case, the Windows client has Work Chat added, with no harm to note-taking. I also use Android, but mainly as read-only so the recent update had little effect.

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