I'm working on a longer post on the topic, but the past few days have seen me spend a bit of extra attention trying to develop some way of doing a "fact file" inside of emacs. Basically what I need is some way of storing information (links, quotes, text) along with bibliogrpahic information (where I got it, when I accessed it) and some sort of meta-data (tags, categories, search index) so that I can find things again. Largely, this data isn't for any specific project, but it is a way to record general notes on the information that I consume in an effort to make that data more useable in the future.

As I firm up the solution, I'll write more about it, but I've discovered something about the software targeted at this domain (generally, "personal information management,") that's worth sharing: there are a lot of notebooks and databases around, but they're all very much alike: anything that's structured as a database is generally desgined to store addresses, contact information and other "CRM" data, which is nice, but not what I'm going for at all. There are also a lot of notebook applications that are modeled on wikis (too unstructured) or outliners (ok, but hierarchical). Interestingly, it seems every kind of personal information management package that isn't an address book (for emacs, but I think this is to some degree generalizable) has grown to a point where it can manage and extrapolate todo-lists from your notes.

Once upon a time, emacs itself was critiqued (and still is) because it has the ability to send and recieve email, and that this feature (email sending) was a sign of "feature bloat," becasue after all, sending email with a text editor. That's a bit a field. I'll let you decide how history has dealt with the email issue. I in the mean time am going to write, and figure out some way of doing a better job with this information.