Sat | 8 Feb 2003archive link

PIM Papers

15:12 EST | PIMs are Personal Information Managers. The purpose of this class of software program is to help us manage our personal information, particularly such things as appointments, to-do lists and phone numbers. As is suggested in some of the papers referenced here, PIMs have been around for many decades, and have always failed to catch on, so eventually they seem to become moribund and die.

We are currently witnessing a recycling of many of these hoary ideas. In partciular Mitch Kapor moderately famous as the author of Lotus 1-2-3 has announced his interest in developing an open-source PIM that he calls Chandler. In addition several other PIMs are in the early stages of release, each claiming to be the greatest invention since sliced bread, and yet seemingly little different from one another.

There is, I think, much that can be learned from the study of some of these PIMs. We now have about 30 years of history of creation, use and rejection of this technology. Yet we are continually treated to new versions of the software, generally without any indication that the lessons of the past history have in any way been internalized. Instead, there always seems to be the assumption that the previous generations failed because something was wrong with the interface, never considering the prospect that the core problem may have been that there wasn't really a useful problem to be solved. So here comes another generation.

What's Old with Chandler

Kapor seems to believe that there is something new in this piece of software, but I fail to be able to find it. It seems to me to be largely a rehash of things that have been tried, in more or less sophisticated ways in several systems over the past couple of decades.

Kapor on Chandler

In the documents of the project, Kapor discusses some of his own beliefs about the system. This is a parallel-ogue of that particular paper.

PIM Papers

What's Old with Chandler
4 feb 2003 This paper describes some of the characteristics of Chandler, and finds it not as interesting as its proponents certainly want to suggest.
Commentary: Kapor on Chandler
31 jan 2003 A parallel-ogue of comments on a note from Kapor describing his Chandler project.

About Mind/Matter

* mind/matter started in 1963 as SONAMCO. Most of the principals have been, at various times, members of the faculty of MIT's Sloan School or of the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School. After several stages of evolution and corporate spin-offs it has become mind/matter.