I do research all the time, and it’s always on the Web. Even when the material comes from a “book” (remember those?), odds are I found a snippet of it on Amazon or read it on Google Books. All the research I do is on the internet, whether it’s for school, Make Use Of or my own random curiosities.
Even as research went online, taking notes on that research really didn’t. It still involved either cutting and pasting into Word, or writing furiously in a notebook. Research became easier, but recording it fell behind. That is, it did until WebNotes happened.
WebNotes‘ motto is “Annotate. Organize. Share.” That’s exactly what they do, nothing more and nothing less. For bookmarking and other features, as we all know, I turn to Diigo. For pure research, though, WebNotes is my new favorite, and may be my last.
WebNotes is not the only Web annotater I’ve ever used (I even loved the annotation features of Diigo), but it’s the simplest- which, for research, makes it the best. It’s simply a tool for taking, organizing, and sharing (if you want) your research findings.
Set-up is a breeze: once you’ve got an account with WebNotes, you either install the toolbar (a Firefox extension, Firefox-only) or a bookmarklet with many of the same features (which worked in any browser I tried). Then navigate to a site you’re using for research, and let the fun begin!
With WebNotes fired up, you’re able to highlight any text on a page, as well as create sticky notes that float on the page. There’s no limit to how many you can do, and WebNotes works surprisingly well in every page I tried to use- highlighting and note-taking were always responsive. The way I liked to do it was to highlight relevant things on the page, and then write a couple of notes about the key points of the article.
WebNotes’ usefulness doesn’t end there, though. Once you’re done taking notes, the organizer gets the spotlight. Right from the organizer page, you can see all the highlights and notes you grabbed from a particular page- it becomes your notebook, with all the information you need right there in one place. You can look through your highlights, read your notes, and see where it’s all coming from.
One small feature that I loved is that WebNotes automatically updates your organizer as you send it more information, meaning you don’t have to constantly hit “Refresh.” It’s a small feature, but a sanity-saver.
You can organize notes into folders, with endless numbers of folders and sub-folders possible. From the organizer, you can launch any page on which you’ve taken notes- with or without the notes on it.
Though sharing features aren’t the point of WebNotes, they’re extremely useful and easy to use. You can share a page, and its highlights and notes, to another person whether they have a WebNotes account or not. Each page gets a marked-up permalink, which you can send to your friends and study buddies. Pages can also be shared via email, or even turned into a PDF. This makes WebNotes useful for group projects and studying, which is a great feature.
WebNotes is still in private beta, but I’ve managed to snag 100 invites from them. The first 100 people to register for WebNotes by clicking THIS LINK will be able to try the private beta – for everyone else, it shouldn’t be long before it’s public.
If you manage to snag an account, please come back here and let us know what you think about the site. Is this something you see yourself using often? In your opinion, how does it compare to other note taking sites?