I love OneNote! It has replaced my paper notebooks. I wish it had Wiki-style links, that create a new page when you type a CamelCase word. But that’s a minor quibble. Its organizational capabilities, looseness, and search – and the fact that it syncs audio with my notes – put it in a class by itself. I’m looking forward to this new version.
OneNote and the Evolution of Productivity Software
posted Monday, January 02, 2006 6:23 AM by owenb
OK, that's definitely an overblown title for the level of breadth & depth I'll be hitting here, but it's the proper spirit. Over the holiday I've been thinking about where the computer industry is these days and where it's headed, and in that vein I’m going to take a quick break from introducing new features in OneNote 12 to jot down a few thoughts about OneNote in the context of the ongoing evolution of software. As I see it.
OneNote (then code-named Scribbler) was an interesting project to me when I joined in 2001 because it up-ended the normal software way of doing things: open an application, select a document, do something with it, close the document. (Actually we hadn't designed any of the application yet when I joined, but it was clear that it was going to require a pretty different approach.) Almost all broadly used end-user software works that way, in domains ranging from musical composition to scientific charting to map creation. There have been a number of idea-collection applications over the years, most notably the collection of outliners and mind-mappers, but none of these caught on broadly to the degree that, say, word processors did. E-mail programs and personal information managers, once e-mail came along, were one of the interesting aberrations, because they delivered personal information, and were thus interesting to consult randomly, even when there was no task to do. Along with commerce and information on the Internet, computers started to become useful to have, well, just around for when you might need them. Computer games are similar, and I think it is not a coincidence that both PIMs and games are both invoked with some frequency in design discussions on the OneNote team.
More: Owen Braun: OneNote 12.