There’s a movement afoot to create an open-source personal-information-management application (PIM) called Chandler. Much like Firefox was developed from an open source effort, some smart people are workingon making something that we can use to organize our crazy info-heavy lives.
I haven’t really found anything that fits (or interfaces well with) the organic, messy nature of how human beings really work, and figured this thing would be similar.
Much to my pleasant surprise, there is a lot of very smart thinking going on about it. There’s an excellent page, written by the articulate Lisa Dusseault all about the “Vision” for the application, and it sounds like the kind of thing I wish we could write for every new development idea we have where I work. It actually reads like a combination of Design Spec and Conceptual Manifesto for personal information management applications in general.
Here is a taste:
Greater Productivity through Procrastination
So much of incoming information can’t be dealt with now. Sometimes we just can’t take action yet. Sometimes we need a different environment to read carefully. Sometimes we could take action but shouldn’t due to higher-priority work. Many items can and should be dealt with later. It should be easy for the user to defer action on email and have the client ensure that it doesn’t get lost. In Chandler the user gives the item a tickler, a trigger that will return the item to their attention later. When an item has a tickler it has been stamped as a task — this shows how stamping permeates the design. The word tickler comes from the David Allen task management system which suggests a manual technique for maintaining a set of reminders and a habit of looking at them to see which are due.
I think I’m going to print this thing out and make everybody dealing with any kind of internal “desktop” interface at work read it.