The murmur of the snarkmatrix…

August § The Common Test / 2016-02-16 21:04:46
Robin § Unforgotten / 2016-01-08 21:19:16
MsFitNZ § Towards A Theory of Secondary Literacy / 2015-11-03 21:23:21
Jon Schultz § Bless the toolmakers / 2015-05-04 18:39:56
Jon Schultz § Bless the toolmakers / 2015-05-04 16:32:50
Matt § A leaky rocketship / 2014-11-05 01:49:12
Greg Linch § A leaky rocketship / 2014-11-04 18:05:52
Robin § A leaky rocketship / 2014-11-04 05:11:02
P. Renaud § A leaky rocketship / 2014-11-04 04:13:09
Bob Stepno § The structure of journalism today / 2014-03-10 18:42:32

Tracking Your Ideas, in Time and Space, With the iPhone

Here’s a little hack I put together just now. The inputs are:

  • Diana’s Google Forms lifetracking experiment.
  • Connected to that: the overall utility and coolness of Google Forms and Google Spreadsheets. They just make it so simple to gather and work with data at human scale.
  • Jimmy’s tweet about Evernote’s geotagging feature.
  • The geolocation-via-Javascript in iPhone OS 3.0, crisply documented by Paul Hagon here.
  • Finally (and most importantly, I guess): my own habit of jotting ideas down in the iPhone’s Notes app and emailing them to myself. I do this a dozen times a day.

So, here’s the hack: a simple iPhone-optimized page that’s nothing but a big text field. It’s a Notes substitute. But here’s what’s cool:

  1. If you access the page with an iPhone, it snags your current location.
  2. When you click “done,” the text and coordinates are piped into a Google Spreadsheet.

And here’s the spreadsheet receiving data from that demo page.

Now, I don’t know if you’ve tried Google Spreadsheets, but let me tell you, it is magic. Easy to use and a breeze to share—with humans and computers alike. I love the idea of having my ideas stored here, in this semi-structured format, instead of in a dumb, flat Gmail folder. I could add a “rating” field next to each one, or a field for “next steps”; I could sort and filter. And, of course, I could make a nice Google Map dotted with these geocoded text blobs. Not tonight, though.

Here’s a zipped-up version of the page if you want to give it a try yourself. All you need is a place to host it and a Google Form with three fields: text, latitude, and longitude (in that order).

I love that this kind of thing is even possible!

Update: I was a little unclear, both in the post and in the zipped-up template. The “formkey” you need to connect this to your Google Spreadsheet is in the URL of the associated Google Form. (I started the whole thing by going to New > Form in Google Docs, but it’s possible to add a form to an existing spreadsheet, too.) So, for instance, the Google Form for my demo is here, and the “formkey” in its URL is the crucial bit.

Update: A small change to the Google Forms “API” broke the page. It’s now fixed, and the updated version is available at the same place as the old one.

July 11, 2009 / Uncategorized


I’m going to use this – not your process, your page – to log ideas I want to share with you. Who needs Facebook? I’ve got Sloanbook.

Another use for the same site: make it a bookmark in Firefox, and check the “load bookmark in sidebar” box. Put the bookmark on a toolbar, with a little icon. Now you can click it for instant online everywhere notes.

(Note: this is handy to do with almost any mobile-optimized site. I also like using Fluid’s built in browser plug-ins to add little sidebars or single-serving browsers, which can then be converted to simple menubar apps.)

Tim, I have a feeling that looking at your Firefox/Fluid config is like looking two years into the future… and/or 10 neutrino-spins into a parallel universe. You should post a tutorial sometime!

For me, mobility is key. I never have ideas — at least not the kind I’m talking about — sitting at my computer. It’s always in the middle of the street.

Gustave Flaubert: “On ne peut penser et

If you guys all keep working this hard and posting results/tutorials, you may just help drag me into the future I can envision but not implement. Fabulous.

Jim Naughton says…

Call it Snarkbook

The snarkmatrix awaits you

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