Using Devonthink for writing and research

I have come across a very interesting discussion on the Devonthink forum, initiated by Andrew who is a research student on the use of DT. Rather than posting a long reply on the forum, I have thought it made sense to post on my blog.

If I was to choose only one application to take with my Powerbook on the proverbial Desert Island, I probably would take Devonthink Pro.

One of the great joys of switching back from Wintel to Mac was to discover so many cool and affordable softwares. The Applications Overload can however be an issue and I have become a strong proponent of simplifying as possible, when it comes to academic work, even if discovering new softwares is one of my hobbies (ie in my own time.)

Devonthink – lovely software but a terrible name; marketers at Devon-Technologie might want to look again at their brand name – is core to the way I now work. I like to say I live in Devonthink.

I use it in conjunction with:

  • a mind-mapping or concept-mapping software (CMap or NovaMind). Hopefully one day Devonthink will also provide a concept mapping capability à la Tinderbox
  • a word-processor (Mellel or MSWord). The key issue here is the ability to create footnotes
  • iCal. This is in the absence of any Tinderbox type agent in Devonthink. Applescripts might however in the future provide a solution in this respect.

As I have already explained somewhere in this blog, the way I organise myself using Devonthink is based on the principles of David Allen’s Getting Things Done. According to some commentators, GTD is allegedly becoming some kind of cult. In essence the methodology’s main originality is its sheer simplicity to stay on track in the way one organises one’s own workflows.

If I compare with xuanyingzi very informative post, in the discussion in question, in which she/he uses for her/his use of Devonthink the metaphore of a library, the metaphor I would use would be the workspace in which workflows flow (note to self and fellow GTDers: in search of the elusive mind-like-water ?).

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