Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Thing #13: Productivity Tools

These are all organizational tools--online calendars, task lists, personalized starting points from Google, etc., and as such they would primarily be useful in libraries as an aid to library administrators to assist them in keeping their act together. Other than this rather abstracted notion of helping our users (through our own increased efficiency) I'm not sure what the direct application would be. But then, I'm tired. Who knows--maybe I'm missing something obvious. Ummm, helping users track when their books are due? Seems like we've got that pretty well covered. I get automatic email reminders when items are coming due, which is a great service.

Starting off with iGoogle: I fell in love with this instantly. It is, however, the opposite of a productivity tool. When you set up iGoogle as your Google search page, you get all sorts of personalized tabs. I have Home, Minneapolis, News, Cooking, Politics, Business and Art. Each is its own page. You can customize what portlets you view on each page. For example, I removed Fox News from my news page. Then I moved the remaining portals around so CNN and NY Times were organized front and center. I believe I mentioned recently that I'm elitist, so this action will come as no surprise. For the Cooking page I added the "World's Healthiest Foods" portlet (for today: swiss chard). A surprisingly fun thing to do is change the "theme" of the header for each of your pages. There are lists and lists of themes, each by a different artist. You can also add a zillion gadgets wherever you like. I added a portal that displays the current phase of the moon. (Waxing Gibbous, one of the lesser known American Transcendentalists.) I say it's the opposite of a productivity tool, though, because it's very easy to get sucked into any one of the portals. And God forbid you add the Tetris gadget. (Does anyone else remember Tetris? I know people who flunked out of college because of Tetris. Well, at least partially because of Tetris.) So, for the self-disciplined a big thumbs up. For those like me, iGoogle should probably be avoided in the workplace.

Online calendars: very nice, but I use my Outlook calendar efficiently enough, thank you. This also reminds me of a blurb I saw years back for an amazing information technology--it was lightweight, easily portable, had a finding tool built in, easy to navigate, easy to mark. It was a book. A printed book. So let's not get carried away here. I also use a real, honest-to-goodness calendar to track my activities.

Ditto with the list managers. I tried out the one called Remember the Milk. This is useful, but isn't a piece of paper also very useful? And lighter? And doesn't require a power source? Am I missing something?

Summary: I'm an iGoogle convert. I'll wait on the rest until the capability to just plug into the hive mind is fully functional.


Cloud said...

I'm with you on the electronic to do lists. We use Google docs to keep our master household to do list, and it works well because Hubby could never remember where to look for the paper version. But deleting an item from an electronic document is nowhere near as satisfying as crossing it off a list. So my daily to do lists at work are still paper. And our weekend chores lists are still paper.

Rudyinparis said...

Right--there is something very satisfying about crossing something off a list. It's kind of like that Ellen Degeneres riff where she talks about how hanging up on people using a cell phone is just not nearly as satisfying as slamming down the receiver of an old school phone.

It's funny you mention it working well for your husband--I actually was thinking, as I was looking over the app, "Hmmm, it seems they're subtly marketing this to women as a tool to help get their husbands more involved in housework." Based on the idea, I guess, that men will be more jazzed about something they can access through their iphone or what have you. That doesn't sound like the case with your DH, actually, it sounds like he's more like my sweet husband who basically couldn't find his head if it wasn't screwed on to his shoulders. But I can see a gender game going on here with the product. It seemed a bit too thorny to go into with the post and I probably shouldn't even have approached it now! Oops!

Thanks for stopping by!

caramama said...

Hmmm. I will have to look into iGoogle, cause I'm a glutton for punishment like that.

I was going to do a similar comment about using Google docs and calendar to coordinate with spouses and maybe even families where kids are older and online. I work with a bunch of young men who are all around the getting married stage. We all just joked with the one who has a long-term girlfriend that now that his girlfriend set up a Google calendar for them, he should look to see if she marked the wedding date! hehe. Apparently, it's the way couples are coordinating their calendars.

(Side note: My hubby and I work for the same company, so we are able to use our company Outlook calendars to track family stuff and work stuff. It's incredibly helpful.)

As for libraries and other companies, I suppose it could be used like the Outlook calendar, but don't most businesses have Outlook for that? Maybe you could put library events on it, but that's not really what it's functionality was designed for, right?

fresca said...

Waxing Gibbous is a lesser-known Transcendentalist?!?!
Have I mentioned lately that I love you?

Jennifer said...

I wrote a very nice response to this and then got distracted and closed the window--lost forever! If I had been writing with a pencil such tragedies would have been avoided...

Which actually ties in with my agreeing with you that yeah, stuff like Remember the Milk and Calendars...uh, I like the paper. It goes everywhere, it doesn't need to be recharged, you can fold it. Paper! It's awesome!

iGoogle, however, I like a lot. And I'm a recent convert to Google Reader, which clumps up posts from your favorite blogs and such as they come in. Basically, I like stuff that helps me organize what I already have online. But offline things like the grocery list and to-do list I still feel better with paper...