Mind Traffic Control roll-out continues.

Nothing spectacular in terms of numbers, but friends are making interesting comments and suggestions; and some strangers are discovering it via the Twitter announcement.

Eikeon pointed to twemes as a place to search for the #tag #MTC on Twitter.

Good chat with Folknology. He’s encouraging me to open up the data. Hence I did CSV export of your tasks. Al, likes RSS/Atom but I still need to find out whether feed-readers can do the required Google login to get at a non-public feed.

Rup3rt weighed in with a number of comments starting :

Wow an invisible list machine almost like a gumball/toy dispenser …

and continuing

I like to see what is ahead but it is good with the delegation – I can line up things for the estagiarios. This is great for non-negotiables like driving instructions, recipes.

* The font for “This task was delegated to you .. may report the sender for blacklisting and delete this task” is a bit big

* I would like a difficult autoaddress (1gg23ff3d3reedd@mindtrafficcontrol.appspot.com) to delegate tasks by email and maybe I could get other tasklists to feed into MTC using this (to just top it up with priority1 or todotoday tasks)

* Maybe paste a list of (line break delimited) tasks that are automatically added

* Maybe show in a widget

* Maybe show total number of tasks

* How would time estimates of task duration fit in? It could be a diversion to see “You have 13 hours of traffic to negotiate”)

Good suggestions. I’ll be interested to know what everyone else thinks.

But here are some initial thoughts :

Font issue, yep. Mailing tasks in to Mind Traffic Control would be great; a very useful addition. But I’m not yet sure I can do it on the Google Application Engine.

I might be able to do it using another hosting service but that’s introducing a lot of new complexity into the system : running two different hosting services, writing scripts on the old-skool one to pass emails it receives into MTC in some way, being responsible for security (how do I stop spammers mailing tasks to you via the system?) etc. Going to take a while to figure that one out.

Importing other formats and / or entering multi-line, multi-task lists is easier and more likely to appear soon. I’ll definitely go for the multi-line input box in the short-term future. I’d be interested to hear what formats readers currently use for to-do lists so that I can import them. I immediately think OPML, of course. But are there others?

Widgets … actually I’ve been playing with OpenSocial and Orkut Widgets for my other GAE project. It’s cute … but I’m not yet sure what I’d put in a MTC widget.

Task counts and time estimates I’m ambivalent on. I don’t want to make MTC a paranoia inducing space where you arrive on the front page to be presented with something saying “Welcome to Mind Traffic Control. You have 280 outstanding tasks”. On the other hand, I see that people would like some sort of overall measure of what they have to do. More thinking on this.

Finally, there’s a couple of issues of “philosophy”, particularly why I’m resistant to letting you flag tasks with “priorities” but leaving that for the next post when I’ll be more coherent.

I see Zbigniew beat me to blogging about wiki-wednesday. That’s one of the perils of laying around in bed all morning.

He’s dead right about Alan Wood’s presentation being very exciting. I’m probably even more impressed by Wood’s “Rel3” than Zby is.

What most impressed me was Alan’s apparent good taste that seems to be formed by real experience. Rel3 isn’t an attempt to take a particular genre of social software as it exists and force it into the enterprise, but a crafted, pragmatic response to particular needs.

Yes, it looks very like a non-threaded discussion forum. In fact it’s also a bit like a page of “River of News” for a single issue being handled within a group. There are echoes of TopicExchange and explicit inspiration from Twitter.

Behind the scenes things seem just as interesting. Written originally in Java, then ported to Rails and now to Erlang. It’s designed to use Amazon’s S3 and EC2. (The fact that it keeps data in files on S3 prompted leaving Rails.) Each page (or conversation) allows files to be attached so you can manage Word, Excel, PDF docs, etc. When asked if he’s thinking of creating some kind of Ajaxy online editor for collaborative documents, Alan sensibly says he won’t re-invent the wheel but will provide hooks to other providers of this kind of stuff.

In other words, this is a very nice, minimal “glue” to tie together the people and resources that temporarily need to be brought together to solve a particular problem. After which the page doesn’t hang around cluttering up your ontology when you have lost interest in it. (I mean, it probably *does* hang around. But Alan Wood, interestingly, contrasted Rel3 with wikis which allow a small group to work producing a more permanent document that must stake its claim to some part of the name-space.)

In this, it has some of the best features of other social software, in particular, I think it has potential to rival email’s special power of spontaneous group forming and dissolving. Let’s see if actually creating, subscribing and unsubscribing to pages can be quick enough.

Also, Alan has a very smart blog at Folknology