Shared notetaking tools?


I am about to start a significant research and writing activity with a co-worker. We will have to organize a bunch of documents, take and share notes, do some searching, etc. The tool should allow us to group and organize notes associated with each document, and perhaps generate some overviews of the collection.

I am looking for recommendations, including pros and cons. We would consider spending a bit of money on this, but obviously free is better. On the other hand, a well-designed, usable interface is worth some investment. Also, I would prefer simplicity to functionality.


  1. I’d use Google Docs because it has built-in versioning, real-time collaborative editing and chat.
    I would also use Google Sites to link a bunch of Google Docs into a single web page, perhaps one page by topic.

  2. Thomas says:

    I would also suggest google docs. We are using it very actively. The biggest issue is in the availability of the data to google. I believe there also was a discussion about this on slashdot some time ago… but I couldn’t find it anymore.

  3. I’ve noticed a lot of groups use OneNote on a server. It also allows multiple simultaneous writes, has versioning, and carries forward the notebook/page metaphor to the max.

  4. Google Docs is certainly a possibility, although it’s hard to organize things in it. It’s not clear to me what the pragmatic advantage of Google Docs to a shared file system is, although if you didn’t have a shared file system, I could certainly see the benefit.

    The versioning aspect is probably the most useful. It’ll be interesting to see if we need chat, as my co-author is down the hall. OneNote is worth looking at.

  5. Thomas says:

    If you interested in shared filesystems, dropbox ( would certainly be an option.

    It also has “some” versioning support and is cross-plattform.

  6. dropbox seems like a neat way to share files, but I am thinking we need to manage creation and re-organization of content in a smooth and light-weight manner. We could set up a wiki, but wiki editing is anything but light-weight. OneNote so far seems the most promising; I just need to get the 2007 version that actually has sharing integrated into it. The 2003 version does not.

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