(Information) River RunningPosted: April 21, 2011
It is a very sad thing that nowadays there is so little useless information.
This blog is supposed to be about, among other things, technology, so I thought I would touch on a recent tech development about which I am pretty excited. There are tons of great blog posts about how the iPad is rapidly becoming a valuable tool for lawyers. Let me join the cacophony by touching on a great app that has not gotten much play: Microsoft’s OneNote app.
One of the biggest challenges for in-house attorneys is the amount of information that passes by in a day: emails, meetings, calls. I likened the flow of information to the Mississippi river, it moves by inexorably, minute by minute, and no matter what you do, you cannot keep up. I constantly struggled with finding a way to capture what was important. I experimented with everything from portable computers, to tablets, to old fashioned paper.
Nothing seemed to allow me to capture everything I needed, until I discovered Microsoft’s OneNote software. It is a spectacular notetaking program that allows immense flexibility in how information is captured and organized. You can take notes (typed or handwritten), incorporate internet search results, web sites as well as references to Word, Excel, PowerPoint and PDF documents. It interfaces seamlessly with Outlook. It has amazing handwriting recognition. In addition, you can assign different categories to portions of your notes. One of my favorite features is the ability to tap on a question mark icon every time I took a note about something on which I wanted to follow up. The program then allows you with one or two clicks to run a report that excerpts each note to which a question mark was assigned.
One of the only problems I had with OneNote was that I found it was always awkward to type with a laptop computer at meetings. I did it, but I was always concerned by the physical and psychological wall created by the laptop’s screen, particularly when I was interviewing someone.
The problem was solved (almost) when Microsoft issued a OneNote app for the iPhone (which works fine on the iPad). I say almost, because it requires you to type as opposed to using a finger or a stylus. Other than that one inadequacy, which I am sure Microsoft will remedy, it is a great way to use your iPad or iPhone to capture notes. The beauty of the app is that by using the synchronization feature, all the notes you take on your iPad can be easily synched with your PC and iPhone.
While it may not make me feel like Huck Finn, the OneNote app allows me to use my favorite way to capture and organize notes on my favorite piece of hardware. Not a bad way to negotiate the Mississippi of information.