I’m a digital squirrel — what are you?

Use what is useful,
reject what is useless
and add what is specifically your own.

It’s been some time since I posed a question here. I got one regarding your work infrastructure.

Looking at my infrastructure, e.g.:

  • using DEVONthink to quickly save websites as PDFs and putting them in a “WebCapture” database (and sorting them into categories there)
  • using a DEVONthink database for all scientific literature I stumble upon and another one for the private literature (labeling the actually read literature in yellow)
  • using GoodReader on my iPad to read the literature, highlighting the parts I need to know when I cite this information and exporting only the highlighted text and my notes
  • using Circus Ponies Notebooks with a page for each source I have read and all highlighted information/notes in outliner cells tagged with the source name_year
  • using Circus Ponies Notebooks with pages for (sub-)topics and the information from the literature I have read tagged with the source information
  • using Papers2 for the literature I have actually read to have an additional copy of the literature and to be able to quickly cite it/export the source in APA style

Yup … looking at all that I think the term “digital squirrel” would describe me (almost) perfectly. If I see something that strikes my eye/brain/heart, I get a digital copy and store it in a way I can find it again and use it (okay, some things get lost, but that’s also the squirrel part). I save it and make backups, because I don’t trust that online material will stay online. I rush though huge amounts of information and take what I think is useful … and it does not weigh me down because it’s all digital. I can store copies in multiple places, including behind steel walls in a bank or on servers abroad.

And despite some setbacks and other “evolutionary” dead ends in the past (e.g., using a Wiki prior to the current solution) — and constant risks (e.g., data corruption) — it works really well for me (and for others who ask for information).

I am still going through my material and sorting and restructuring it — and this will be a continuous task: New information will either be simply added or the information I already have must be restructured to be able to deal with the new information.

But I think it works and I see how well it works when share information, answer questions, or create or write something new.

To come back to the question — this is a solution that works for me — so I am curious, how does your work infrastructure look like? And how would you see yourself if you would use a metaphor?

Drop me a line or a comment. 🙂


  1. LOL My “to read” label is also yellow in DEVONthink Pro and I do also PDF web pages to file for future reference.

    I now use DEVONthink as my RSS accumulator since the shutdown of Google Reader. I have ceased to use both Instapaper and Pinboard since focusing on Devonthink. Now all I need is a decent iOS sync of my databases and all bases will be covered

  2. My mail application (Apple mail) and task manager (Things) are also an integral part of my digital workflow, in addition to DevonThink Pro Office and DevonThink To Go (http://lucbeaulieu.com/e-office-series/).

    It does take a few iteration to get a workflow that feels confortable, in particuler when dealing with a large number of documents.

  3. Hoi Luc,

    yup, I agree … it also took me a while to get a workflow that I am comfortable with. I started with a Wiki, now I use DEVONthink and CPN topic notebooks and Papers and Scrivener. I think it works, but who knows, perhaps there are some better tools in the future. Still, whether it works or not is determined by the output …

    All the best


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