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PIMs


Scott Rosenberg on a blog entry on PIMs mentions Ecco (which has been recently revived) as one of his favorites. He also points to two of his previous columns on PIMs (from the late 90s): Personal Information Mismanagement and From Agenda to Zoot. The second article contains an excellent summary of all the options available at the time of writing, and comments on how people like to use these programs, and how they aren't nearly flexible enough to help you track, apart from calendars and adresses, other kinds of information that may be unique to your needs). In the first article, he makes the following point:

"The real problem here may lie in the software industry's obsession with "creating standards." Each PIM producer may dream that it might someday achieve Microsoft-like dominance of its niche (as Microsoft itself plainly does), but by their nature PIMS tend toward a fragmented market: Some people like outliners, others like databases; some like structure, some like free-form approaches. So "creating a standard" is nearly impossible; a program like Ecco may develop a loyal and significant following, but it's unlikely to appeal to everyone. And in today's software business, companies run away from markets that don't offer at least the hope of some kind of standard-setting monopoly. (Limited as the PIM options are for Windows users, they're practically nonexistent for Mac users.)

In an ideal world, there'd be a whole spectrum of unique PIM programs -- one for every user, even. But we'll never get anything like that from the conventional software business. Perhaps the free software/open source model -- once it begins to reach out fromthe hardcore hacker enthusiasts to more general users --will begin to fill this vacuum; since it's built around individual programmers' contributing useful modifications and tweaks, it might turn into a wellspring of new ideas and tools for organizing our data and lives."

Companies have their priorities wrong: instead of creating a good product they try to swamp the market with "standards". Apple however has shown that you can survive by catering to a particular niche (in their case, by being the "Porsche" of PCs). We have become used to the idea that a company has to growgrowGROW all the time, always bigger, better, faster, more money, more! That's what's wrong. If the company can be small and still provide good software and a good service, and a good living for its employees, then that should be acceptable as well.

Categories: technology
Posted by diego on September 16 2002 at 1:36 PM

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