Back in October, I wrote in an article about how I was moving towards using Springpad as the main repository for my daily work data. I outlined some of the cool features that let me capture, structure and organize my data in unique and useful ways. A quick click of the “Spring It!” bookmarklet, and everything from article ideas to product research was ready and waiting for me in Springpad.
Over the last few months I’ve continued to use it for that purpose, but always seem to have neglected to utilize some of the interesting things that it could do outside of my business and work endeavors. Features that, while appealing, I just never really got around to using. That’s about to change — and in a big way.
Instead of just being a “place for my stuff,” the newest release of Springpad now helps me do things with that stuff. It processes what I place there and then presents me with some contextual options that let me actually do something with that data.
For example, if I capture a CD that I think I might want to buy, it automatically recognizes what it is, links me to some shopping sites with price comparisons and gives me a list of tour dates for that artist. For movies it links to reviews, showtimes and a way to buy tickets.
This anticipation of why I added something in the first place makes it easier to take action whenever I happen to revisit that item, thus making the act of capturing and storing that information in Springpad much more useful to me.
Even the act of capturing the data has gotten easier. The new “Quick Add” bar not only does a web search so I can pull in structured data but it also live searches my friends’ shared data so I can easily find items that they have already captured, and possibly reviewed.
While Springpad is much more than just a bookmarking tool, I tend to use the “Spring It!” bookmarklet most often for data entry. It lets me grab and store items as I encounter them. The bookmarklet has been greatly improved as I can now more easily tag and identify items and add notes, all without needing to go in and tidy things up in the full interface.
An email dropbox has also been added, which is nice for entering story pitches, receipts, and other interesting items that come in via my Gmail. I use this feature often with Toodledo and my CRM app and have grown quite accustomed to it. Email items need a bit of cleaning up, however, and I haven’t figured out a way to tag or categorize them while entering them with the dropbox.
An iPhone app has also been released with options for capturing data by type, photo or even viah a bar-code scanner. I’ve resisted the urge to buy an iPhone up until now but the lure of easy, ubiquitous access to Springpad and some of my other favorite apps is making that more difficult to do recently.
All of these new features make it much easier for me to capture what I’m thinking, what I’m seeing, and what I’m finding and then put it in a place where I can easily process it, use it and store it. Not only does the capture process clear my mind from trying to remember the minutiae, but when I do need to use some information I can do so quickly and efficiently.
I’ve watched Springpad change quite a bit since I first looked at it, and with each release it becomes more useful. If I have one concern it is that the focus of the service on the apps and other tools that originally hooked me is somewhat diminished. For example, the apps folders have moved from the main page to a tab of their own. Everything still works the same and no functionality has been lost, but there is a sense that it is moving away from the product that I started using to becoming something else. I guess since that something else is also quite useful, perhaps it’s just a matter of me evolving right along with it.
I keep a lot of stuff in my Springpad — how could it help you?