In one of the best and most useful posts I have read in a long time, Mercurytide has posted a white paper entitled A life online: living decentralised.
The Mercurytide paper is a virtual handbook for Web 2.0 software and services, providing a service by service summary of the most useful applications. The paper is a must read for anyone who uses or wants to use the internet to become more organized and efficient.
Here’s my brief take on the applications and services mentioned:
Netvibes is a service that allows you to make a custom, highly configurable internet home page. Not a blog, but an internet starting page where you can keep information, links, and data feeds that you use all the time. Sort of a turbo-powered My Yahoo page or a web-administered version of The Home Place, my internet portal.
I’ve used Netvibes a little, but it hasn’t displaced the combination of The Home Place and my highly customized My Yahoo page yet. Yet being perhaps the important word in that sentence.
Writely is a web based word processor. I’ve read about it, but I haven’t used it, so I can’t really comment on it other than to say it’s probably the leader in the clubhouse as far as online word processors go. But Microsoft and others are still on the course.
Gmail is the tendered choice for web based email. I use it and it’s a good choice, especially along with Firefox and the Gmail Manager extension. Yahoo and Microsoft have new versions of their web based email applications coming out soon. Yahoo won’t send me a beta test invitation, so I can’t comment on its new product, but the new version of Hotmail, called Windows Live Mail is pretty spiffy, particularly if you use Internet Explorer as your browser.
Delicious is clearly the bookmarking service winner. I and almost everyone I know in the tech world use it daily. While not an organization tool in the same way a lot of these applications are, I’d add Technorati to the list of must-use Web 2.0 services. If not for tagging, then certainly for finding relevant content via searching.
Num Sum, an online spreadsheet, is the one on the list I had not heard of. It calls itself the “social spreadsheet” and looks to be the spreadsheet counterpart to Writely.
Flickr is Mercurytide, my and everyone else’s hands down choice for photo management, storage and sharing. It’s more than just a place to keep your photos- it’s an entire community built around digital photography. And the posters, prints and photo books are pretty cool too.
Openomy is an online file storage service. You get 1 Gigabyte of storage and, according to Mercurytide, you can use RSS to integrate your stored files with Netvibes. I’ve heard of Openomy, but I haven’t used it. I definitely intend to check it out.
Backpack is an online organizer. It can be private or shared among multiple people (a family perhaps?). Steve Rubel likes it, so it must be a well done and useful application. I am going to try to get a Newsome family Backpack page started so I have some idea where I have to be and when. Most of the time I feel like a dog looking out the window: I’m happy to be along for the ride, but I have no idea where we’re going.
Bloglines is (after my very rocky start) an excellent online news reader. I use it. Good suggestions for my blogroll are welcome via Comments.
CalendarHub is an online calendar. I haven’t used it, but it looks pretty full featured. My hunch is that some of these scattered applications (like the word processor, spreadsheet, organizer and calendar) will ultimately consolidate, either via acquisition or via some as yet unknown new application.
These Web 2.0 applications and others like them are changing the way we connect and stay organized. If you’re looking for a handbook on what’s out there and how to use it, the Mercurytide article is the place to start.
Thanks to Thomas Hawk for the heads up on this great article.