The Tao of pottering


Sometimes it's just nice to potter. Work is, by necessity, so focussed on getting results in the shortest possible time, and the remaining time so packed with other chores that need to be done, that I really appreciate being able to just potter without any pre-determined goal. This morning was a pottering morning. Being a geek, this meant tinkering with a design for a gallery for this site (not quite finished yet), while listening to a great Sunday morning mix of Beck, The Velvet Underground, Jimi Hendrix and Peter Gabriel, and singing along cheerily. The aim was not to finish the gallery (which is just as well, because I didn't), but just to fiddle about with it, and by messing about find out what and how I wanted it to be.

Which brings me (rather smoothly, I think) to Zoé. No, not a person (c'mon, it's me talking here) -- a piece of software. To paraphrase an old Apple slogan, it does email different. ly. The general idea is this (as far as I can ascertain from the purple prose on the site). Why bother categorizing your email into folders, when you could let the computer rummage around in your correspondence and find all sorts of links and associations that you might not be able to find? That's what they're good at after all — churning through text and looking for matches. From the brief play I've had with it, it seems to do that rather well, finding threads, emails sent or recieved on the same day, emails from the same sender, URLs inside those emails, and so on. Chandler, the new PIM I mentioned a while back, works on a similar principle. Why do you have to think about how you want to categorize something? You only need to know when you want to find it later, but if you have an easy way to find anything you want, why force something into a category. I think this kind of software could be the Next Big Thing. Potterware, perhaps.

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