Clipmarks – double-edged FireFox extension
Looking for a useful note taking tool I tried out the Clipmarks extension for Firefox. As a large part of my job entails keeping up to date with the latest news on the net, I thought it would be handy to have something that would allow me to compile and store any snippets of interesting info that I could refer to later.
Clipmarks allows one to select clips of text and pictures from websites and store them on the Clipmarks website. These clips can either be kept private or shared with the public.
When clipmarks is activated, moving the mouse over a website automatically selects sections of the site being viewed, placing them in an orange box. Through the use of a “slider” these boxes can be made bigger or smaller to cover the amount of content that is selected. If this doesn’t select what is wanted, users also have the option of clicking and dragging to select content from the site.
Once all the sections that are wanted have been selected, one hits the little “save clipmark” icon that is displayed in the browser toolbar. This creates a new window where a title, tags and remarks can be added to the clip. A useful automatic feature is that every clip is saved with a link to the original page from where it came.
There is the benefit that one can then access all collected clips from any computer with Internet access, making it very useful for people on the move or working from various locations and not using the same machine. On the downside, unless the machine from which one is working has the extension installed, it isn’t possible to collect these snippets.
The process of collecting clips was a little more cumbersome than I had hoped, but everything was going well and I was getting things done. Then all my dreams of extreme productivity fell apart when my eye caught sight of the Top Clips section, where the most popular shared clips could be viewed.
With this little discovery, Clipmarks ceased to be a handy little note taking tool and became a destination in itself. The ability to share clips makes Clipmarks more of a hybrid between a visual blogging tool and a MySpace type website. The extension had morphed from a time saver to an extreme time waster!
What followed was a drawn out perusal of what other people had put up and shared. Topics posted are as various as the content on the web, including humour, political views and news, academic findings and even commercial links. While some of the clips were familiar from having done the rounds as emails, many were new, intriguing and – most dangerous of all – highly engrossing.
All in all I would recommend this handy little app. But with a cautionary warning that it is dangerously distracting. If things are quiet and you can afford to kill some time, this is a great way to explore the nooks and crannies of the Internet. If you are looking for a quick, simple and streamlined note taking tool, this is not necessarily the best option.
Ironically, in collecting the links to the Clipmarks site for this article, I unexpectedly came across (what I hope) is exactly what I was first looking for. Ditto, which can be downloaded off of sourceforge here is free of the distracting (well, for me anyway) online storage element and appears to offer a more streamlined and stripped down note taking tool. If it works, expect a review soon, otherwise I’ll just return to the trivia fest that is Clipmarks for a while.