Wednesday

Wednesday 23/10/2002And talking of Notes, the progenitor of Lotus, Mitch Kapor, is back in the news. He's invested a few million in the Open Source Application Foundation, a not-for-profit organisation which intends to produce a personal information manager that will do much the same as Outlook.

Wednesday 23/10/2002
And talking of Notes, the progenitor of Lotus, Mitch Kapor, is back in the news. He's invested a few million in the Open Source Application Foundation, a not-for-profit organisation which intends to produce a personal information manager that will do much the same as Outlook. Code-named Chandler, it will bring together your emails, contact information, to-do list, calendar and so on, and act as a personal information hub around which you can run your life. And if you don't like the way it does something, well -- here's the source. Go and do it better. Now, this is a splendid idea. I don't like Outlook, and it doesn't like me. I find the interface contradictory, the performance sluggish and its features difficult to comprehend. I keep having to delete stuff I want to keep -- hell, I want to keep everything -- and anything involving big attachments (which these days is nowhere near unusual) means putting the kettle on, learning Sanskrit, translating War and Peace into Hungarian and solving world hunger by the time I get my file from A to B. I'm not sure that Chandler will do this: it doesn't seem to have very large data set management as a feature. But by my calculation, I've probably acquired more than a gigabyte of email over the past few years -- and had to throw it all away, despite storage getting very cheap and processors getting very fast. My son will probably acquire ten times that in his first ten years of online life: it's not just stuff that'll be needed for work or play, but an archive of an increasing proportion of our whole lives. I want to keep this stuff -- imagine how fascinating it would be to have the equivalent for people of a hundred years ago. But email and PIM software knows nothing of this. It all assumes information is transitory and small, which in an age where it is increasingly neither, is just plain wrong. I hope Chandler will evolve quickly to solve this problem: if so, it'll be truly life-changing.

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