Home list.it: Post-It Notes for the Twitter Generation

list.it: Post-It Notes for the Twitter Generation

While furiously trying to organize my digital life this past weekend, I found myself as I often do – with an obscene number of tabs open at the same time while hopping from thought to thought. It was in the middle of this confusing mess that I came across list.it, the self-described “simple, free, open-source note-keeping tool to help you manage the tons of little information bits you need to keep track of each day.”

Put out by the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory at MIT, the browser extention is a “tool to help people cope with information overload and to stay organized” that has since helped me keep track of the common threads of an often multi-threaded day.

What It Is

The best part of list.it is its simplicity. It doesn’t do much more than keep a list but it does that very well. List.it exists as a sort of frame on your browser that you can hide or show with a hotkey. Even its design is perfectly simple, with a text entry box at the top, a search bar in the middle and the individual list items below.

Big Features for a Little App

List.it does all everything I want it to do and nothing more.

There are just four hotkeys to remember: One opens and closes the frame, one searches through your notes, one pops up a quick entry bar at the bottom of your browser and one adds the current URL.

The list items are kept in little boxes, which can be rearranged simply by clicking and dragging. A click on the main area of a note opens it for editing and directly clicking on a URL will open that website in a new tab. A click on the “x” deletes the item.

Information for a Twitter Generation

Now, this isn’t the type of app where you’re going to keep large chunks of text, so the search can serve a slightly different purpose. For techies like us, members of the Twitter generation, the idea of hashtags has become common sense. They work as a great way to keep your information organized, as whenever you do a search, you can click the “+” next to the search box to save that search. Instead of working in a directory structure, you create the structure on the fly.

This might be one of our favorite parts of this little app. While we can use the browser’s bookmarks or services like del.icio.us, we don’t have to spend time keeping our list organized in the same way. There’s no complicated and powerful bookmark organizer. List.it is for parceling off your information into little bites, manipulating them and working with them along the way. As long as you tag your notes along the way, these saved searches act as filters. If that hashtag appears anywhere in the note’s text, it will be displayed when you click on that search button, which is kept just below the search bar.

List.it also allows for synchronization between different browsers by saving your list on a central server, that way you can take your list with you on your netbook or your iPhone. One caveat – we ran into some difficulty while trying to create a user name and password. After installing list.it, there will be an orange triangle next to the text entry box at the top. Clicking on that will bring you to the proper location. Aside from that, we’ve had no other problems, which is always nice to see with an open-source, always in development type of app.

We’d recommend going and taking a look at the extension for yourself. It’s available for Firefox version 3.0 or greater and for iPhone and Android. The video included below gives a quick preview off the extension, but we think using it will really prove its usefulness.

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