I managed to find a tool supporting a highly stochastic writing process - by keeping track of all my random thoughts. It's highly interlinkable, easy to use and runs smooth so far. … The only thing I miss is integration with a Bib-tex database.
I've just started playing with TexNotes (Windows-only) and so far it looks very good. Like AKAV, I need something that can work with me as I jot down scattered thoughts, quotations and ideas that I know are interlinked and amount to a post, an article or a book.
DEVONthink, a Mac-only program, is also very interesting but seems to go way beyond what TexNotes can do (amongst other things, it's a freeform database). On his blog, Steve Johnson explains a great working relationship he has evolved with this program, and in the NYT he suggests,
… 2005 may be the year when tools for thought become a reality for people who manipulate words for a living, thanks to the release of nearly a dozen new programs all aiming to do for your personal information what Google has done for the Internet. These programs all work in slightly different ways, but they share two remarkable properties: the ability to interpret the meaning of text documents; and the ability to filter through thousands of documents in the time it takes to have a sip of coffee. Put those two elements together and you have a tool that will have as significant an impact on the way writers work as the original word processors did. … These tools are smart enough to get around the classic search engine failing of excessive specificity: searching for ''dog'' and missing all the articles that have only ''canine'' in them. Modern indexing software learns associations between individual words, by tracking the frequency with which words appear near each other.
And this, from his blog, about his 'digital research library': 'When you're freewheeling through ideas that you yourself have collated -- particularly when you'd long ago forgotten about them -- there's something about the experience that seems uncannily like freewheeling through the corridors of your own memory. It feels like thinking.' And a tantalising prospect: 'The other thing that would be fascinating would be to open up these personal libraries to the external world. That would be a lovely combination of old-fashioned book-based wisdom, advanced semantic search technology, and the personality-driven filters that we've come to enjoy in the blogosphere.'
Cory has a fine, general comment on Steve Johnson's use of DEVONthink:
… his computer jams with him, suggesting neat tangents to his subjects. It's a great example of good computer-human interaction, where computers are used to programatically count and compare quantifiable elements (word and phrase frequencies) and human beings are used to pass judgement on the output of the computers. People are good at understanding and crap at counting; computers are just the reverse.