Nice post, Alan. I’ve had a look at the Symtym blog post on personal clouds and have had to click on most of his links to understand what many of the programs do.
There is a vast need for time management/ ‘GTD’ (=Getting things done) solutions and a wide array of programs and tools available. It was a 2002 book by David Allen that helped enmesh time management principles with the sort of software that could echo and enable these principles in practice. A link from this article led me to an elegant table comparing GTD software. The table allows you to sort by release date (MonkeyGTD was released only yesterday), alphabetically by name, by platform/web/handheld or by free/paid. Another slightly less faceless option to getting things done is Sandy, a free electronic personal assistant. You email or text her to tell her what and when, and she reminds you by email or text message.
Me and most of the folks I work with rely on Outlook tasks and calendar to remind us of what is going on. This is a bit backward and personally, I’d like to improve what I do, especially with regards to task lists. I think I’ll keep an eye out for blogs like Heidigoseek, an LIS student who is figuring out the best (& most cost-effective) way to sync her information. She writes about synching her iPhone without DigitalMe, a paid program, here.
Several years ago, I had a Blackberry for work and that is the most synched up I have ever been. It was a pain when I occasionally left it turned on over the weekend, only to be confronted with work emails at odd hours. At the time it was also poor for web surfing. But I still found it useful.
The real point of these gadgets, I believe is not to make us hyper-efficient, but perhaps to allay our anxieties that we might not have all the information we could ever need, with us, at all times. I agree with you that I too do not want the weight of the world on my shoulders when I go for a nice long walk and still want to bring my mobile phone. There needs to be some sort of filtering mechanism…
I think that for many early adopters, what having the latest smartphone does to enhance their personal image is almost more important to them than practicalities like “will it sync with BOTH my Google Calendar AND my Outlook?” The tide is turning, and with things like the GTD movement, it is no longer how to revolve your life around your gadgets, but what can they do for you.
Alan, I think those are good questions to ask. Regarding Q3, I think you should have a chat with the powers that be and see if they would be up for a technology evangelist in your organisation. Perhaps it *should* be the informaticist’s role to be this guide, this champion of technology, but it can be a minefield if, like me, you have a preexisting IT department who controls what is installed onto computers. I suppose you can influence people’s practice at home and that can trickle down to more people making requests of IT.
One more thing–an exciting (yes, my heart did a flutter) post on going paperless.