Plato wouldn’t like Memonic, but you might

Spoiler alert! Why do you need yet another note storage service? You don’t. If you’re happy with what you have, you might as well stick with it.

However, if you only need to work with text and web clippings, you work with several groups and you hate Google Docs with a passion (or, if like me, you’ve never warmed up to them), you might give Memonic a try. Especially if your group members use iOS devices.


I’m not sure what to make of Memonic for the iPad. I can see it’s purpose. You can share documents with users across multiple platforms through the Memonic web app and you can run it as a native app on both iPhone and iPad. Since even iPhones with iOS4 can use the external keyboards, Memonic allows your group members to log in and contribute lengthy documents and edits complete with keywords, images and videos.

The iPhone app even takes pictures with the camera. For some reason, however, the iPhone app doesn’t even load images from the iPad photo app.

Plato would have hated Memonic. He thought the act of writing thoughts down diminished our capacity to hold real thoughts in memory. He believed the thought was real and memory contained the purest copy of the thought. As soon as it was written down, the writing became a copy of a copy—something inflexible and dead. The thought of posting on the internet would have horrified him. And an app like Memonic, which creates multiple copies of the copy of the copy of the real thing would be the equivalent of reproducing a temple priestess as a blow-up doll.1

But Plato would have equally hated Google docs and PDFs. All this is somewhat ironic since we wouldn’t have the slightest idea how Plato felt about writing if he hadn’t written his thoughts down. It was one thing to ask generations of poets to memorize Homer. But the complete works of Plato? I don’t think so. And, so far as I know, no one even tried because they could read them just as easily.

Web app redux

Like Goodle for iPad, Memonic iPad is a front end to the Memonic web app which you can also run from Safari. The web version has a few more features, but the native app has its uses, too. Mainly, you can create and save notes even without an active web connection. The interface is identical to the web interface (unlike Google), so you don’t have to learn anything new.

When your connection is active again, you can sync your documents to the web and everyone in your group will have access to those documents. Of course, they will only have access to the documents in the folder(s) with permissions for the group. You can also keep documents private or share different documents with different groups.

You can create groups with access to selected documents. This allows you to keep track of documents for more than one group and keep prying eyes out of your private documents.

The documents synch automatically as soon as you launch the app with your internet (or 3G) connection active.

Memonic takes a unique approach to folders that I haven’t seen elsewhere. When working in the web app, you can assign a documents to multiple folders as well as groups. This allows you to track the same document for multiple uses without creating aliases for each folder. When you delete the document, you don’t have any ghost files floating on your iPad or server.

The web app allows you to move and assign new folders to documents. You can even assign a single document to multiple folders and groups without creating aliases.

You can perform global phrase searches with the search field, but you can also create custom keyword tags to find related documents easily even if they aren’t in the same folder.

You do have to go online for document management, but that shouldn’t be a surprise. Even Dropbox and Mobile Me don’t really allow you to manage your documents on the iPad.

That being said, Memonic’s real power comes with the web app itself. You can create bookmarklets to reference multiple web pages, and when you run Memonic on your computer’s browser you can even clip and customize content. (Theoretically, you should be able to do this with Safari on the the iPad, but I haven’t been able to make those features work).

You can also create custom clippings from web sites and save them to your Memonic folders. You can also create bookmarks, making it easy to share referenced sites with your work groups.

YouTube playback in iPad mode is dicey. Sometimes it does nothing, sometimes it crashes the app (it will still be running in the background, however). So at this point, the iPad app (and the iPad Safari support) still need work.

The basic service is free and allows you to store and share 100 notes. But if you intend to use Memonic frequently, the premium price of $28 isn’t bad for an online service.

Who could use Memonic? Certainly study groups, Bible study groups, small volunteer organizations like Siamese Rescue and small offices with a few people and a limited budget.

Why not use Dropbox instead? I do, and will continue to do so. But I only share a handful of documents with Carol so it works fine. But for larger projects with multiple managers I think Memonic offers a slightly more elegant solution.

Who won’t find it useful? No one who needs to share and markup professionally formatted documents. Groups who need to share calendars and numbers.

That being said, I could certainly see small teaching departments and research replacing email with Memonic for drafts and document preparation (they won’t; too many people get involved in those decisions which means the status quo only changes when the new software is already out of date).

Memonic could save the hassle of emails and attachments, allowing people to check one location for department business instead of sorting through spam and letters from home. Once the drafts were approved for content, they could be moved to .doc or .pdf files.

In short, Memonic is a tool for sharing and tracking text documents that does a decent job of managing and searching files. You can access your files on any device, even your iPhone, without worrying about formatting loss. But that’s because Memonic files aren’t formatted anyway.

Jenny Manytoes rates Memonic

Jenny Manytoes would purr next to Memonic. I wouldn’t recommend it to everyone. But if you share your files with one or small groups and need a way to share files online, this could certainly fill the bill. And if you already have an online service (say Google docs) and hate it, it may be time to move.

You can always leave your old files on the other server and cut and paste if you need them.


1I buried the rest of this thought for the bashful. In case you don’t get the blow-up doll reference, you probably don’t understand the role of temple priestess. The temple priestess was an earthly personification of the goddess. Men would travel great distances and pay a great deal to conjoin with the personification of goddess (i.e., bang the copy). Blow up dolls would allow them to commune with a copy of the copy of the goddess, which Plato would hate, although he wouldn’t hate as much as keeping pictures of the goddess under your mattress. back


The Jenny Manytoes Rating System

Jenny Manytoes, our polydactyl cat

  • When Jenny makes biscuits on a product she thinks she’s in heaven.
  • When Jenny purrs over a product she’s very happy.
  • When Jenny naps next to a product it’s okay with her.
  • When Jenny bunches her tail she can live with a product, but she has higher expectations.
  • When Jenny leaves it in the litter box….I don’t think I need to explain this one.
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About Phillip T Stephens

Phillip T. Stephens disappeared into the Bermuda Triangle twenty years before he was born, creating a time travel paradox so confusing it remains unspoken between physicists and sci-fi writers to this day.
This entry was posted in 4 Stars - Purr, Google Docs, Text Editors and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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