Unbearable Liteness of Being
I was sitting in a brainstorm with some colleagues from Office Labs a couple months. We were all talking about the various social networking softwarez we use. At one point, Jeremy, who had been writing while everyone else was chatting, described the two lists that we had written down. He’d made a list of all the web apps that he signed up for in one column and then the lighter, simpler version of that service that he actually used in the other. Instead of twitter, destroyTwitter; instead facebook, facebook lite; instead of Ta-Da list, he uses the iphone app; etc, etc, etc.
I thought he was onto something here… Although I’m not sure exactly where the “ah-ha” moment is, the idea of finding the simple-est, little app for assisting a task rang very true. Not just with how I think many people work that way when on the web, but also how the apps on the iphone have infected all these moments in our day. (There’s an app for that.)
Underlying this trend there’s this idea that our lives are divisible, with each parcel of this division nicely paired up with a piece of technology. What I find lacking in this scenario of these apps-as-endpoints is that we end up without enough glue to hold them together. I’ve written a little bit about RSS (and Yahoo Pipes) as a glue that might allow you to string together endpoints with some amount of intention, but it’s not good enough. And with a mobile phone you get a set of destinations that don’t really connect well to one another.
What I want are applications that step into the flow of my life and talk to each other. For example, if I wanted to grab a beer with some friends tonight I could: use the Yelp app to find a bar (first, suggesting one’s that my friends already like), tell my calendar event automatically notify my friends of the location, and when I’m ready to call a taxi— I don’t have to type in my location. Not that complicated, really. But difficult to do when all apps are in their own silo.
Not to be regressive, but I need some sort of aggregator, glue, dashboard, whatever you want to call it. Maybe we should care about our OS again?