As our inboxes and noggins get overloaded with stuff, there’s an increasing number of attempts to solve the problem with technology.There’s Evernote, of course, whose motto is “remember everything.” But two other startups, Clipboard and Snip.it, have started tackling the problem. And they’re far from alone.
Clipboard lets users grab parts of Web pages. Think of it as a smarter copy-and-paste for Web content, replacing clumsy options like taking a screenshot or pasting raw, unformatted text into a document. Most clips are private or shared with just a few people; in that regard, it’s more like Google Docs than Twitter or Pinterest.
Clipboard opened its service to the public in May and has several tens of thousands of users who have taken hundreds of thousands of clips, CEO Gary Flake told me.
We found Clipboard really useful in assembling a recent story about Twitter and Apple’s long history together. When we found a brief aside in a blog post or a fragment from a page captured by the Internet Archive, storing it with Clipboard’s browser plugin worked far better than the conventional methods.
Here’s a screenshot of our clips:
Photo: Owen Thomas, Business Insider
Snip.it puts bookmarked URLs in topical collections, allowing users to assemble meaningful explainers or collect relevant articles together. Collections are meant for public consumption.
CEO Ramy Adeeb says the impetus came from the Arab Spring of 2011. Adeeb, who’s Egyptian, says friends asked him to explain the revolution happening in that country. He couldn’t convey the complexities of the story through existing means like Twitter.
“It’s hard to be multifaceted” within Twitter’s 140-character limit, he said. And tools like Pinterest put the emphasis on images, not ideas.
Snip.it seems popular among political enthusiasts and cosmopolitan sorts. The site only allows you to share links, not specific passages as one can do with Clipboard. But unlike read-it-later services like Pocket and Instapaper, the point isn’t saving up stories for your own reading; it’s creating instant bibliographies for others.
Here’s Daniel Codega’s Elections 2012 collection:
Photo: Daniele Codega
Some of the efforts to snag and save pieces of the Web aren’t even coming from companies. At a recent LinkedIn hack day, a winning team of interns created a tool called ClipIt. ClipIt gives users “magic scissors”—an interface similar to Adobe Photoshop’s lasso tool—to cut out any portion of a Web page and save it. ClipIt’s isn’t as polished as Clipboard or Snip.it, but there’s a charm to the tool’s quirky design. (The ragged edges give us fond memories of high-school yearbook layout sessions.)
Photo: LinkedIn Hackday
Then there’s Evernote, which recently raised $70 million in a round which valued the company at $1 billion. Evernote is the elephant in the room of Web-memory services.
But as Evernote users, we’re frustrated by the limitations of its products. Evernote’s Web Clipper, for example, is frustrating to use compared to Clipboard’s bookmarklet and browser plugins—and the LinkedIn interns’ ClipIt makes it look positively antiquated. Snip.it, meanwhile, makes sharing knowledge far easier than what we’ve experienced from trying to share notes on Evernote.
So there’s an obvious solution here: Evernote CEO Phil Libin should put some of that freshly raised capital to use snapping up some of these upstarts. Or just hire some of those sharp LinkedIn interns, before they go out and raise money themselves.
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