Softlaunch … no fanfare …

Mind Traffic Control

This is my first Google Application Engine application. A kind of next-action list for the Twitter generation.

Basic instructions :

1) You need a Google account to login (eg. Gmail) … it’s a GAE app.

2) There’s a blue box for inputting tasks you need to do. Once you start entering them, Mind Traffic Control will show you your next action.

3) At which point you have a choice. Say you did it. Delay it (push it to the back of the queue). Delegate it to another user. Defer it to a future date. Or delete it altogether.

4) Keep going.

There are a couple of ideas behind this. First, that people have been getting too hooked up on the idea of “organizing” their tasks and actions into lists. But organization itself isn’t really an end, it’s a means towards making sure you remember and discover your tasks, as a means towards the ultimate end of getting stuff done. So instead of thinking of tasks as list-management, Mind Traffic Control treats tasks as un-structured flows.

The real focus is on capturing the tasks as quickly and easily as possible. So, inspired by Twitter and Folknology’s Rel3, the input box is always there at the top of your page.

The other focus is when the task is presented to you. At this point you need all your options to quickly route the task. In a more static system we might say route into particular “bins” but here it might be better to say “channels” (unless it’s the ultimate sink of “done” or “deleted”.

Another idea … it’s meant to be the simplest workflow that could possibly work. Just short messages which can be routed. Everything else has to be constructed by humans on top of this. But as, once again, we’ve seen with twitter, it looks like humans are pretty good at filling out these communication channels.

Anyway, off to bed … will write more posts here soon …

please have a try with Mind Traffic Control, and if you have any comments, feel free to post them here.

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