The user interface is specifically designed to look like a 3-ring binder, complete with tab dividers. Users can divide the notebook into multiple topics and subtopics for the various types of information they want to record and save. Workers have all the advantages of an old fashioned notebook binder with the additional advantages of being able to copy information from one section to another, to do full-text search, to find and share information easily, to annotate text, to grab information from other Office programs or from the Web, to flag key items, and even to record and play back audio notes.This describes the interface well. You do have "all the advantages" of a familiar look: a three-ring binder. Obviously, it goes beyond the physical notebook, allowing search, annotation, etc. But you also have some of the disadvantages of an old-fashioned technology. You have to put the information somewhere, i.e. into a specific "notebook," a specific "page" and somewhere on the specific page. But there is no "where" in the spatial sense in an electronic application. So, it would be better to do away with the notebook metaphor altogether.
What would that look like? I could point toward a wiki, but I don't have to. See Notational Velocity or nvAlt on the Mac:
You just type a name of the note (or the first line of the note), and away you go. You can also link files and assign categories. The interface does not get into the way, asking you "where" to store the information.
I recently talked about info-base which has the same affordances. See here
As everyone knows, I prefer the wiki approach which is just as simple. You just type some expression enclosed by double brackets, and away you go. Apparently, you can do this in OneNote as well, but I am not sure. In any case, if you can and if you could get rid of the notebook interface, I could perhaps be persuaded to use it.
Now, I agree that OneNote does not look as garish as this,
but it still gets in the way--especially when navigating from one note to another by its means. And, as I claimed before, (for me) this might work with relatively few notes, but it becomes increasingly less workable the more notes you have. I understand that others might get a different mileage. Microsoft obviously thinks so, in any case.
1. White Paper