I’m surprised at the poor state of online contact management, given how mature the online e-mail market is. I’ve just spent a frustrating and mostly wasted morning with Plaxo, trying to see if it could fulfil my relatively simple needs (online contact management, syncing with something desktop-based, ideally Thunderbird, and syncing with my mobile phone as a nice to have). After struggling with the over-engineered Plaxo interface, a wobbly Thunderbird sync extension that loses critical bits of data, and a de-duper that misses obvious duplicates, I gave up.
I wrote the other week about Dopplr and am finding it quite cool (despite some competition for attention from Facebook, Plazes, and others). They’re now allowing unlimited invites, so if you know me and would like one, let me know.
I’ve just finished reading Scott Berkun’s new book The Myths of Innovation. Like his previous effort, The Art of Project Management, its main redeeming feature is its no-bullshit tone. Reading The Art of Project Management, it was easy to see the influence of Berkun’s experience working on Internet Explorer at Microsoft, but it nevertheless stretched into topics other than mere software or technology, giving a less dry alternative to traditional project management textbooks.
It appears that all the cool kids are using Dopplr to run into each other more often. I’m kinda curious to know whether it’ll work (I ran some numbers on this a few years ago with some colleagues and we concluded it wouldn’t). So I’ve signed up. I’ve one beta invite left, so if you’d like it, let me know.
I managed to drop my IBM-owned Thinkpad fairly violently last weekend and the hard disk crashed. Thinkpads are worth the money, folks, they really are the most reliable laptops going (honest - IBM has sold the brand to Lenovo now, anyway). Unfortunately even it couldn’t withstand my abuse. I’m currently in the process of getting it fixed, but it was impressive how little disruption it has so far caused. I was both concerned and embarrassed when it first happened: partly because I really need a laptop to take away with me to San José, and partly because, well, it’s embarrassing to break other people’s stuff (even if that person is a virtual entity employing a few hundred thousand people).
A long discussion with plv the other day about open source and what it really meant got me thinking about that model when applied to other domains, such as mapping. Google have clearly made a success of Google Maps (I’ve discussed Google Maps before as compared to Multimap - not entirely favourably - but whatever I think, the market loves the former). Plenty of competitors have also sprung up, notably from Microsoft.
I’ve recently taken to reading a lot more on-line - particularly as services such as del.icio.us have helped me to find high-quality content and more high-quality blogs come on the scene. This, of course, is the long tail of written content. One of the things I’ve noticed, though, is that as I read more and different things, I get more impatient with long articles. I hardly read non-fiction books any more, and fiction books almost never (preferring film).
It’s plain that the camera industry has seen a significant degree of disruption in the last 5-10 years, almost all of it driven by digital cameras. On the back of this, we’ve seen a huge explosion in pictures on the web (most obviously on sites like Flickr), as well as other interesting changes (such as print-it-yourself kiosks in photo shops and chemists). Amateur photography seems to be going through a resurgence - I have started taking a lot more photographs, as have many of my friends and colleagues.
Chris Anderson’s The Long Tail, although now passé for the trendiest MBAs, still seems to be kicking around as a buzzphrase. The canonical example is Amazon - they have a vast range of books available because the cost of maintaining a huge catalogue is low (many books are listed but aren’t in stock; other books are in stock at a third party supplier so Amazon effectively outsource the storage; an online database can be essentially unlimited in size at minimal cost).
This year has clearly been the year of YouTube, Google Video and other pretenders to the throne. And as I’ve discussed before, I think Flash-based video is really cool. However, not everything it’s used for involves cats falling off trees as per You’ve Been Framed, or actors fooling people. One of the best uses has been the huge amount of compelling video that’s been released free from conferences this year. I’ve absorbed tens of hours of it this year, on subjects as diverse as life coaching from legend Tony Robbins (Alexander Kjerulf has been to one of his seminars, and I want to go too), the marketing of spaghetti sauce, and curing aging.