Now blogging at diego's weblog. See you over there!

information overload

I was writing an entry on information overload on //no comment and I was thinking of the tech side to the problem: better tools. "Google everywhere" if you will, that would be a first step. But just a "google-like" tool is not enough, we need categorization, and an app that learns what we want based on our previous behavior. A "digital information center" that simplifies information management. Not just a better PIM, but a new kind of application.

Categories: technology
Posted by diego on September 16, 2002 at 7:45 PM

information overload

This past week I've been reading more than writing. Part of it is the trip: visiting family and friends gives me little time to reflect much on geopolitics and whatever and makes me focus on the immediate. The other part however is that there has been a lot of opinion pieces and commentary on the press this past week. Here are some of them, with different viewpoints and ideas on what happened, what will happen, and how to make things happen:
I might be a news junkie and so predisposed to read op-ed after op-ed, but for most people it is almost impossible to read everything and make any meaningful assesment of all the sides and live a life outside them. 
All of these articles have common themes of course: September 11, one year on, and the coming US-Iraq conflict. This debate is good: that's how democracy is supposed to work. But.... but.... there is so much information and so many ideas and opinions... how can people keep up with them? It seems to me that the press and politicians and "policymakers" are talking to each other and they rely on polls to know what the people think. The people, meanwhile, are basically told what to think  by what they read and see on TV. Unbiased and unadulterated information is rare. Such a vicious cycle of "decision making" sounds seriously broken to me. Wrong, wrong. And this is just one topic.
The question is, how to change it?
Categories: personal
Posted by diego on September 16, 2002 at 7:38 PM

MS and P2P

Microsoft acquired XDegrees about a week ago as a further move into P2P technologies that will supposedly be integrated in various forms into .Net. I wonder, how is their agreement with Groove affected by this? Isn't this yet another case of MS purchasing something small so they can kill the competition? (If they have the P2P technology, they have the End user apps, they have the servers... Groove and Microsoft seem increasingly like competitors more than partners.)

Categories: technology
Posted by diego on September 16, 2002 at 1:55 PM

Klein on the Earth Summit

Naomi Klein on the recently completed Earth Summit. Many good points.

Categories: personal
Posted by diego on September 16, 2002 at 1:47 PM


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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