PIM Online

The “PIM” in the title stands for Personal Information Management. Since different people might have different opinions on what that might mean, let me throw out my definition at the outset:

The amalgamation of tools used to manage personal information. These include, but are not limited to: emails, calendars and addressbooks.

Over the years, PIM systems have also come to incorporate things such as news (RSS aggregators or Usenet news readers) and instant messengers. Kontact is a good example of a confused PIM system.

I’ve unsuccesfully tried in the past to make my PIM completely online, but somehow it never seems to happen. Every system fails in one regard or the other. I’m scared to be completely dependent on online-only systems (such as GMail and Google Calendar) because of two reasons:

– it needs significant investment of my time to get the system to a usable state (importing all my old data, involving the system in my usual work-flow etc)
– in Internet time, all of these services have been fairly short lived. I can’t keep shifting from one service to another. What if the thing I’m using goes down in a couple of months? What if some other, better services comes up the next year?

I guess these problems are not new and have been addressed earlier in other contexts. For me, a good PIMs should satisfy the following requirements:

* The information should //always// be available locally. I should **not** need an Internet connection to access my calendar.
* Tight integration — both between components and across systems. So my calendar needs to be tightly integrated with my addressbook, but it also needs to play nice with other calendars.
* Edit anywhere: I should be able to add/modify/delete information anywhere. Either on my local client, or through a web interface.
* The system shouldn’t try to build loyalty by tying me down to one particular format or protocol. The system should follow standards, make it easy for me to migrate to other systems, and build brand loyalty by simply being the best of the breed.

Take TODO lists for example. I just **love** [[http://rememberthemilk.com|Remember the Milk]]’s interface — its quick, the keyboard shortcuts are amazing, it exports RSS feeds, an iCal output that I can shove into my desktop applications — the works. But I’m using GMail for my email. Or even [[http://joyent.com|Joyent]]. Now Google will undoubtedly come up with their own Todo list, and so will Joyent. Will they be as good as RTM? Who knows. But it gives me a sense of insecurity. I will onl feel comfortable when I know that a) all my data is at hand locally should I need it, and b) all my data will be easy to shove into another service when its time to make a switch.

//PS: There’s yet another kind of personal information management system. The kind that Ragesh and his friends did for their software engg. project ;-) Ask RagsY for more details.//

One comment

  1. Badi

    I think plaxo http://www.plaxo.com is going in that direction. It syncs with outlook, yahoo, gmail, thunderbird (for addresses),….

    Now that Plaxo 3 is out things seem to work smoother (before you would more often than not get duplicate contacts,…)


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