With some great technological advancements in the past decade, why am I still organizing my life in bookmarks and spreadsheets?
The next great technology needs to get more personal. We need to drop the rectangular web browser and think in higher dimensions. Let’s say iGoogle meets Macbook Dashboard meets a much better version of the new Yahoo! homepage meets the iPhone application platform. I’m talking about a secure, personal, customizable dashboard/portal through which one can live. It’s where I’ll track my information, both from the web and my mind to better organize and optimize my life. It’s where I’ll see and interact with my personal data in a comprehensively insightful yet very organized environment.
Right now, how do I track my information? Some is on the web, some is on my hard drive, and some is on paper. I have over 200 username and password combinations I use to login to various sites. I’ve got at least 250 bookmarks in 15 top-level categories. I’ve got spreadsheets that summarize my finances and visuals I’ve created to try and learn about them. For now, when I need to know something, I find the appropriate link, look up my account credentials (if not stored), and then investigate. But for those in a similar place in life, are my personal needs really that different?
If I list out all the things I do online, all the things I read online, all the information I organize on my computer, all the personal resources I access online, and all the questions I might have about myself, can I begin to minimize some clutter? Can I get Google Reader, Macbook Dashboard, iGoogle widgets, social network widgets, and personal spreadsheets in a secure, organized interface? Please?
- Accounts – Search logins by account, email, username, password, notes, date added, date updated
- Address Book – Contact Info, birthdays, anniversaries
- Links – Yahoo!, Google, GMail, CNN, Wolfram|Alpha
- System Stats – Files/Folders, latest backup, storage space
- Weather – Today’s weather, 7-day forecast, full interactive radar/satellite map
- Bills – Due dates, billing cycles, average costs due
- Energy Monitor – Monitor your home utilities, set “green” goals
- Finances Monitor – Monitor stocks, IRAs, retirement, savings, checking, credit card
- PayPal – Request/receive payments, see pending invoices
- Subscription Management – Expected issues, renewal dates,
- Coming Soon – Movie releases, Tickets on sale, Upcoming concerts (Thrillist, Ticketmaster, Fandango)
- Google Reader Tracker – Total unread, shared items, etc.
- Local – Weekend Events (Going Out Guide, Eventful, etc.), Breaking News
- News – CNN News Pulse
- Sports – Scores/News
- Brand Monitor – See sentiment for desired keywords/terms
- Discussion Board Monitor – Track your posts and comments, desired forums
- Hot Topics – See trend topics and most searched items
- Notifications – Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter
- Social Timeline – LinkedIn Updates, Twitter Lists, Status Updates
- Web Analytics – Twitter Stats, Google Analytics
- Movies – Times, upcoming releases, IMDB search, RottonTomatoes rankings
- Music – Playlists, connect with Grooveshark albums, iTunes Radio, etc.
- Photos – Flickr/Picasa portlet
- Sports – Fantasy team tracker, favorites scoreboard, breaking news
- TV – Guide, schedule of favorites, DVR control
- Doctor/Dentist Appointments
- Google Health – Transferable aggregate eHealth record
- Running Routes and Tracker – MapMyRun
- Vitals Tracker – Graphs/charts of weight, blood pressure, body fat, etc (see Wired article on how Nike unleashed the power of personal metrics)
- Map – Where I’ve Been, Where I want to go
- Reading List – What I’ve Read, What I’m Reading, Connect to Amazon
- Recipes – Saved links, suggested items, BigOven link
- Shopping – Grocery (connect with PeaPod), Retail deals/coupons
- Tasks / To-Do
- Watch Lists – eBay Auction, StubHub
- Wish List – Amazon, iTunes, Retail Stores
- Currency Conversion
- Dictionary/Thesaurus (Wordnik)
- Flight Tracker
- Job Tracker – Monster, USAJobs, search agents
- Maps – My placemarks, directions, search locations
- Shipment Tracker – UPS, USPS, FedEx, etc.
This is just a list of things I do, need, have, and want. Obviously there are a lot more to be added. It’s important to note that all of these widgets/portlets have a similar foundation that parallel the major dimensions (in light blue) I spoke about in my earlier post on the boundaries of the human condition:
Accounts – List of all companies/organizations. Information is tagged by the company and all info can be found with regards to that account, when needed.
Dates/Time – Many things are calendar-based and should be aggregated to a personal, customizable calendar view
People – Address Book is a foundational database. People can be searched throughout for linkages and notes.
Places – With the current technological trend, many needs are location-based (including news and tweets). Personal organization dashboards should leverage geo-tagging for contextualization of information to the user.
It’s also important to note that most people want information in 3 forms: a quick preview, an expanded summary, and an interactive tool. This follows closely with a recent social trend – high variability in the speed with which we move. Sometimes we want a snapshot of our current personal information because that’s all that we have – a few seconds of time. At other times, we may have a few minutes of free time, most likely coupled with a defined question or purpose:
“How much do I have in my checking account?”
“What will the weather be like this weekend?”
“Need to transfer rent money to roommate.”
“Did my package arrive safely?”
“Who has a birthday in the next month?”
“What are the hot news items of the day?”
“I want to buy a book from my Amazon wish list.”
“To which country should I travel next summer?”
And finally, this cannot be overwhelming. It needs to be there when you need it but not short circuit your mood if you don’t check it for three weeks. All charts and graphics need to be simple and interactive and customizable, but also intelligent in design to attract the most novice of digital users.
So what will the next decade bring us? Will personal desktop technology be able to fully leverage the vast amounts of data we have online, on our computers, and in our heads? Will the world become more stat-conscious, and learn to take insight from the graphical display of life data? Will the desire for a less-click lifestyle drive better personal dashboards for secure, centralized organization? I hope so.