I’m still slightly reeling from the announcement of Google Keep yesterday. If you’ve not been tracking the tech press, here’s their summary:
Every day we all see, hear or think of things we need to remember. Usually we grab a pad of sticky-notes, scribble a reminder and put it on the desk, the fridge or the relevant page of a magazine. Unfortunately, if you’re like me you probably often discover that the desk, fridge or magazine wasn’t such a clever place to leave the note after all…it’s rarely where you need it when you need it.
To solve this problem we’ve created Google Keep. With Keep you can quickly jot ideas down when you think of them and even include checklists and photos to keep track of what’s important to you. Your notes are safely stored in Google Drive and synced to all your devices so you can always have them at hand.
Well, if you read my “hello world” post three days ago, that would sound familiar. This is obviously an idea whose time has come. I started thinking about it last autumn — given that they now have a product, and even the geniuses of Google take a while to write something like this (especially given that unlike me, they have to handle significant scale from day 1), they must have been thinking about it for much longer.
On the other hand, as I posted on Hacker News:
When I was young and naive, reading that one of the big boys was getting into the space where I’d just started a project would have scared me off and I’d have abandoned it. In recent, more clued-up years I’d have thought “ah, market validation!” and ramped up my development effort. Now, in the light of the Reader abandonment, it’s more like a feeling of joy that Google will educate the world about how great an idea this is, and then abandon it just about when I have something that other people might actually want to use.
The idea of a personal space where you can augment your memory by storing thoughts as they happen has existed for centuries. People in the 17th century had commmonplace books. Writers have kept notebooks to jot down plot ideas for equally long. Scientists have long kept logbooks to make sure that they remember every detail of an experiment. I remember my schoolteachers telling me that the lab notes were as important as the experiment itself; they said something like “if you don’t write it down, it didn’t happen”. Googling which (to find attribution) leads me to this lovely article on one person’s search for the ideal note-taking solution. My own search has been similar.
There are a near-infinite number of ways to skin this particular cat. Google Keep seems to be optimised for quick notes taken on the go. This is a great idea, and fits in well with the mobile-first ethos of the tech industry at present. On the other hand, while a mobile-first design was the plan for Memostream (just because it tends to give a better mobile experience). most of the use cases I was considering were more desk-bound. Hence the “Memex for the 21st Century” tagline at the top of this blog.
Perhaps there’s space for more than one product in this market. At least, the itch that I wanted to scratch with Memostream is not quite satisfied with Google Keep — or I think it’s not, rest assured I’ll be using it for the next few weeks to make sure that that’s the case.
Do you think Google keep is the right solution to the kind of problems I’ve been talking about on this blog? Is there a better approach? Let me know in a comment, or — even better — sign up for the beta. As of this writing, I’m still able to keep an individual conversation going with everyone who signs up, so if you do so I’ll definitely drop you a line :-)