Saturday, June 14, 2008

Getting Things Done (mostly) with Google

I'll start off by saying that I'm deeply troubled by the way Google caved in to pressure from undemocratic governments and censored search results, for instance in China. I think this lapse in corporate governance has opened for all companies a Pandora's box that didn't need to be opened just for the sake of more business in a segment that Google already dominates. Having said that, I will continue by saying that otherwise I have the greatest respect for the intellect and vision of Google's founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page. They are true computer scientists in the tradition of Bill Joy at Sun, unlike some of the other super-rich technology guys who are actually light-weight dilettantes with no real academic discipline or even background, but whose names will go unmentioned, though we all know who they are. And  unlike most of those other super-rich technology guys' companies, Google actually gives away some of the most interesting and useful software on the planet, absolutely free.

Recently I decided to implement David Allen's "Get Things Done" (GTD) and I've started looking at the tools available on the Internet, since over the past few years I've gone almost totally paperless and at the same time I'm almost 100% online (between my home laptop w/ Wi-Fi and my 3G smartphone with unlimited data connection). At the same time, over the past few months I've found myself using more and more of Google's free software and almost all of these Google applications work well now with both full-sized and mobile browsers. I use Google search as my preferred search engine with web history turned on (after getting over some queasiness about privacy), I've ditched Bloglines for Google Reader, I started using Google Calendar exclusively, and I now throw dozens of links into my private Google Notebook everyday in addition to my more formal, public bookmarks through Diigo. The list keeps growing and I use iGoogle to launch everything in my full-sized browser (the mobile version of iGoogle is still fairly limited). In short, I think they got me!

Over the next few weeks I'll put together a "mostly" Google suite for GTD, and I'll publish the results here for everyone to critique and add any suggestions for improvement. I'll also look at substituting most if not all of my remaining desktop applications wherever possible with their online Web2.0 or Saas "equivalents", for instance I might replace Freemind with Mindmeister. One goal will be more or less seamless integration of this GTD tool set on both the mobile and desktop platforms, though maybe through a well-defined process rather than actual integration. Another goal will be to maximize the use of each tool's fitness of purpose for a given task and minimize any overlap or duplication, like a master carpenter's well-designed tool box.

Thanks for dropping in to read this brief introduction to my new little project, and stay tuned... :-)