I needed a tool to help me remember what I read more easily, and didn't find anything that
completely suited my needs, so I decided to make my own.
From the Scribilus blog:
One thing that really bothers me is that I don't remember most of what
I read. Granted, I have a poor memory to begin with, but there
have been books that I have re-read cover-to-cover again a couple years later and
realized that I didn't even remember reading in the first place.
Last year, I decided to do a better job at this, especially
for non-fiction books, and I started taking notes while I was reading.
I find that I remember what I write
an order of magnitude better than what I just read. However, I'm one of those
people who just HATE to write in books. Hi-lighter marks and underlines make me *cringe*.
I tried the usual solutions: Index cards, sticky notes, paper, and a spiral bound
notebook, which I only used 2 pages of. In the end I found that using OneNote on
my laptop PC while reading worked ok for me. I type a lot faster than I
can write, and the computer made it easy for me to find my notes later. I even developed
my own special marking system for my notes, like [i] to prefix ideas I had and
[q] for questions that arose while reading.
But soon I realized that I wanted an even better experience. I wanted to be able to
easily organize my notes by chapter so that I could review them later. I wanted to be able to
access my notes over the web. Further, I also wanted
to be able to publish my (sanitized) notes to my friends who were interested in
the same subjects, and see what notes they were making on the same books.
I spent quite a while looking for something that would work for me. I found web-based
OneNote replacements such as Zoho Notebook, but like OneNote, weren't specific
to what I wanted. I also tried blogging software, but found it hard to rearrange
(and filter) my notes after the fact.
So, I decided to write my own tool over Christmas, and Scribilus is the result.
At face value, Scribilus is an online replacement for a tabbed
college notebook built specially for taking reading notes. However, the magic of
the web allows it to be much more. I looked, and couldn't find
any major web tools for reading groups or for sharing notes on books. There were
certainly a lot of book review sites, but nothing that actually let you discuss
a particular book in any depth. I used to be a big fan of newsgroups back in the
day, and I really wanted something like a newsgroup or forum dedicated to discussing
the ideas around any book, organized by book and chapter. My hope is that Scribilus
can someday evolve and grow to fill this need.
If you are reading this, please give Scribilus a try if you haven't already.
All features will be completely free to use through the beta period (which may last a while).
I'm thinking about how to best support this in the long run (hosting and bandwidth do cost money).
Perhaps there might be some kind of premium account type with additional features if it makes sense,
but I intend to always keep a free version available for people to use and enjoy.
I'll also make sure that users who give the best suggestions or feedback during beta will get free upgrades
and other goodies, so please be liberal with your feedback. :)
Keep in mind that what you see today is the product of perhaps 20 days of on-and-off
work, but I am committed to making improvements as quickly as I can. Please use
the feedback form to report any bugs or suggest new features. I can't promise
when and if I will be able to do most of them, but all your feedback is very welcome and helpful.
If you do find Scribilus useful, please drop me a note, and if you don't please
drop me a note as well. I'd like to know how I can make it better.
I intend to post updates on how things progress on this blog, so do check back often.