About Notado

What is Notado?

Notado is a content-first approach to online bookmarking, where the paragraphs and sentences that make you want to bookmark something are treated as first-class citizens rather than pieces of additional metadata. With Notado, your bookmarks focus around selections of text, which are fully searchable and can be organised however makes sense to you with a powerful automatic tagging system.

Online Bookmarking

I created Notado as someone who has been an avid bookmarker and information organiser for almost the entirety of my online life, and naturally my interest in this area has lead me to cross paths with many others who share the same passion for organising and archiving things they read online. Drawing from my own experience and discussions with others, I would say that workflows with popular online bookmarking services tend to look something like this:

  • You see something that looks interesting online
  • You find time to read it later, probably in a dedicated app (Instapaper etc.)
  • If you find any particularly interesting parts, you highlight them if you're using an app that supports highlights
  • If the article was worth archiving and you pay for an archiving service (Pinboard etc.), you send it there
  • Depending on the app or service you're using you can add some tags at the article level
  • At this point you might have a separate flow to import specific information into dedicated information management software (DEVONthink, Tinderbox etc.)

Why Notado?

Over the years I have found that these kinds of workflows just don't work very well with my own mental model around new information acquisition and digital archiving of text:

  • I care more about the information contained in specific passages of an article than the article itself
  • I have found that archiving entire articles without some form of accompanying highlighting or annotation is not useful from an information organisation perspective
  • I feel that tightly coupling highlights and annotations to articles instead of passages adds unnecessary friction to organisability and rediscoverability
  • I am restricted to adding tags to an entire article rather than passages which limits my organisational flexibility
  • I find that high-quality discussion and commentary on articles is valuable enough to be treated as a first-class citizen when it comes to information organisation and archiving
  • I struggle to read consistently when I throw everything into a "Read It Later" pile which I inevitably have to purge once the unread count is high enough to give me a minor anxiety attack

How I Use Notado

Automatic Tagging Rules

  • I have a bunch of automatic tagging rules set up for high-level categorisation
    • Notes with "r/rust", "r/golang" and "r/kubernetes" in their URLs get tagged as #programming
    • Notes containing "PS4", "Nintendo Switch" and "Steam" get tagged as #gaming
    • Notes containing "Native Instruments", "Ableton" and "MIDI" get tagged as #music
    • etc...
  • I typically don't use automatic tagging rules for anything more granular than this
  • When I look through my recently saved notes in the mobile app or in a browser, I'll add more granular tags if required
  • I generally try more on full text search than I do on tags when I'm looking for something in my archive

On my Phone

  • I go through my RSS feed reader which contains a mixture of blog feeds and post feeds to Hacker News, Lobsters and Reddit
  • I read the articles in Safari, highlight the selections I want to save and send them Notado as I read
  • If the link is from Hacker News, Lobsters or Reddit, I browse through the comments and save the comments I find interesting
    • I read Reddit comments in Apollo and save them from there using the app's share extension
    • I read Hacker News and Lobsters comments in Safari and save them by sharing the permalinks to Notado
  • I mainly use the Notado mobile app to keep up to date with what my partner is reading and saving, and save to my own account any interesting or relevant notes
  • My partner, who is an Android user, primarily uses the WhatsApp bot to save new notes

On my Desktop

  • I don't use an RSS reader on my desktop, so whatever I end up reading on the desktop comes from either organic browsing or search results
  • If I end up at Hacker News, Lobsters or Reddit and want to save a comment, I use the browser extension to right-click and save using the comment's permalink
  • If I am reading an article and want to save a selection, I use the browser extension to highlight the text and right-click to save it

With Pinboard

  • I have linked my Pinboard account to my Notado account
  • The URLs associated with every note that I save to Notado get synced to Pinboard automatically
  • Pinboard's archiving service crawls and stores copies of every page that gets added
  • If ever an added URL goes offline, I can retrieve an archived snapshot of the page from the moment it was saved on Pinboard

With Instapaper

  • Alright, I don't actually do this myself, but I have friends using Notado that do
  • A user links their Instapaper account to Notado
  • The URLs associated with every note that they save to Notado get saved to Instapaper automatically
  • Notado will try to automatically add notes as Instapaper Highlights to URLs that have been synced from Notado to Instapaper
    • If the user has a Premium Instapaper account, the number of highlights that can be added are unlimited
    • If the user has a regular Instapaper account, they are limited to 5 free highlights per month
  • This hooks into existing workflows and automation they have set up to handle newly added Instapaper highlights

That's It!

There are a lot of ways to go about saving and organising things that you read online, and I hope I have explained both why I felt the need to create Notado and how I use it on a daily basis. If my reasoning or my workflow clicks with you, create an account and give Notado a try!