“Now the skillful workman is very careful indeed as to what he takes into his brain-attic. He will have nothing but the tools which may help him in doing his work…” - Sherlock Holmes in A Study in Scarlet
I have trouble remembering stuff.
I’m not alone, because whenever I look at a computer workspace, I see scribbled on paper and sticky-notes. Why, oh why, can’t computers keep track of this stuff better?
Right now, my brain looks more like my grandparents’ cluttered attic than the lean Holmesian ideal quoted above.
What we really need is a better way for our computers to be our brain-attics, freeing us up to do whatever it is that we do best.
So, we need to be able to enter text, and shuffle existing content into the system. We also need to be able to store email and web pages and integrate with browser bookmarks. Contacts. Todo lists. Calendars. Anything that we’re currently scribbling on yellow notes stuck on our monitors. And it needs to be searchable. Really quickly searchable, as in keystroke-at-a-time results.
Personal Information Managers (PIMs) have already been invented, right? Well, technically true, the late Lotus Agenda, Outlook, and Evolution being the top contenders. But something’s still missing: despite these programs, people still have sticky notes, or worse, a physical desktop that looks like mine.
Zoot goes a long way towards a solution, as I have written about earlier. But it doesn’t go far enough. It’s text only, and there’s a limit to maximum text size that I run into regularly. It’s also tied to a single platform, which I don’t run natively (or at all, so far with Red Hat 8)
ZOň goes quite far in this direction too, but is too focused on email. If you are, say, writing a book, your own personal notes will dominate email for the scope of the project.
If we store everything in the attic in various shades of XML, such as the current and proposed formats for XHTML, VCard, RFC822, RSS, plain text, etc., we open new avenues for use and re-use. For instance, we can uniformly display the data with XSLT and edit it with XForms. We can over time develop a desktop semantic web with rich metadata associations connecting all different kinds of pieces of our own data. The Google idea scales inward, and we will find that the links between our data are at least as important as the data itself.
So, does anyone know of such a project underway? Does anyone want to start one? -m
What do you use to keep track of stuff you’d otherwise forget? Talk Back now.