Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Web 2.0

One of the great things about the web recently is how new internet technologies (RSS, Ajax, Ruby on Rails, Python on Rails etc.) has brought low-latency, browser execution to the internet, enabling web sites to act like (simple) local applications. Google, google maps and gmail in particular, has changed people's expectations on what can be done online.

Mark Hurst recently released Gootodo, a bit literate to-do list that is very much a Web 2.0 application. (Mark founded Creative Good, the company I work at).

Before the internet, the most important thing you could plug into your computer was a printer. This paper-focus is reflected in the formatting and layout features built into the key application suite of that era: Office (Word, PowerPoint, Excel). I've argued that in the internet age, the most important thing you can plug into your computer is an ethernet cord (or WiFi card) (see here and here) and while Office is still important, the key applications are now email, web browser, and text editor etc.

The to-do list that comes with Outlook and other PIM applications (Lotus Notes, Palm Desktop etc.) are lousy, because you cannot attach a task to a particular date. Moreover, it is difficult to integrate these with email -- the major source of incoming tasks that would need to end up in to-do list.

Gootodo fixes these issues and is the best online to-do list out there, and everyone needs a great to-do list.

Here's how the list works:
1. Each todo is associated with a particular day (and rolls over at midnight).
2. Each todo has a ranking within its day (I don't bother with this).
3. Each todo has both a summary and a detail (critical feature).
4. Any e-mail program can create new todos - for today or a day in the future (critical feature).
So, an email comes in telling me to do something by tomorrow -- I email it to my to-do list and bcc: my to-do list 7 days in the future so I can follow-up and make sure it's done. The task is out of my inbox and where it needs to be. You can apply for an early adopter account here: http://www.goodexperience.com/gel/form_gootodo.php

I also wanted to take a note to point out writeboard, the latest web application by the excellent 37Signals. Writeboards are sharable, web based text editors. Or if you are geeky, a wiki (or a wiki for the rest of us). I'll be honest, I've never been able to get good use out of wikis (although I like reading wikipedia). Mostly, the wikis I've seen just become ftp replacements.

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