Kurt McKee

lessons learned in production

Hey there! This article was written in 2006.

It might not have aged well for any number of reasons, so keep that in mind when reading (or clicking outgoing links!).

I want a people manager! Now!

Posted 4 November 2006 in address-book, integration, management, people, synchronization, and type-manager

I recently stumbled across an old comment I made on Slashdot. (It appears to be the only time I've been modded up to +5 Insightful, and I even managed to call the parent commenter "stupid" in a striking parallel to what his comment said!) Rereading my words almost a full year later, I'm convinced even more that "type managers" are an integral part of the computing experience.

In the original article referenced on Slashdot, the author suggested that file managers are a terrible way to manage a great number of file types, such as music, photos, movies, or games. He then expounds on the features that should be universal to all type managers - editing metadata, providing easy search, and completely handling actual file management so the user doesn't need to.

I talked with Allan last night about this very issue, and complained bitterly about the lack of strong people management in Gnome and elsewhere. The gist of it was fairly simple: I want a powerful address book that all applications make use of, and I don't have that.

I want my buddy list to be populated automatically with my friends' screen names. I want heuristics in my email and IM software that will automatically discover contact information (like a phone number) and allow me to instantly integrate that information into a central address book.

I want an instant map and driving directions at my fingertips from my address to my friend's address. I want my feed reader to automatically discover feeds on my friends' websites. I want all of these applications to ask my photo manager for the icon that corresponds to the tag matching the person's name so that there's a consistent visual representation of the person. Finally, I want to plug my Palm Pilot into my computer and immediately synchronize my entire address book.

Right now my address book software is barely passable: I can't stand to manage the information because the interface is impossibly unintuitive, and what's the point anyway? I won't be able to synchronize that information to my Palm Pilot, where I really need it.

Oh well; at least I can organize my photos and music in a sane way.

*[IM]: instant messaging