I heart Netvibes
While I was enthusing about Netvibes to Nancy I realised (again) how each person's experience of tools is so different. And if we don't talk about it, we don't know how other people are using them.
My browser opens straight into Netvibes where I have the feeds for my calendar, photos from Flickr contacts, del.icio.us feeds, and headlines from the BBC, Guardian and Publico. I love it when I open my browser and the first thing I see is the latest photo from my flickr contacts.
However, the life-saver for me in Netvibes isn't all the feeds that greet me as I start up the computer - it's the "Bookmarks" and their tags.
I have at least five different projects on the go at any one moment and each project uses tools that are the same as or different from the other projects. In the past I used Prototype, an Ajax start page, where I kept different panels for each project. So each panel has a project and quick links to each tool in that project. But it just became a big mess with lots of panels. Also, I would have liked, for example, to be able to click on Wiki and get a list of the Wikis I have in my different projects. But with the panels you can only categorise under one panel title
As my Prototype got too messy I found myself using my my feedreader (NetNewsWire) as a sort of project organiser. I keep a folder for each project which contains the related feeds. But I also use the folders as a route into the different tool spaces. So if I want to check the BaseCamp list of ToDos in "Project CIARIS", then I go to NetNewsWire, click on the folder for Project CIARIS and click into BaseCamp through the link there.
But this system is a couple of clicks too many and doesn't work if a project has a site with no feeds. I need, for example, to keep consulting the CIARIS website, but it doesn't have a feed. So I then have to use my normal Firefox bookmarks, taking me out of that centralised headspace I need to manage so many different parts of my life.
The way my brain is wired I need is a way of organising my project bookmarks where I can get to places either through their project name or through the name of the tool. And sometimes through the name of a person.
So that's where Netvibes, another AJAX start page, has been my sanity-saver. In Netvibes I have a Bookmarks panel where I bookmark every tool or site related to my different projects. Each bookmark is tagged. So, for example in "Project CIARIS", that I'm doing with Nancy, I use esnips, Basecamp, CIARIS website and Moodle. Each of those tools is tagged with "CIARIS" and with "Nancy". So through this little panel on Netvibes I can click on, say, "Basecamp" and get a list of the projects I'm doing in Basecamp or click on "Nancy" and get a list of the projects I'm involved in with Nancy. Or I can click on CIARIS and get a list of the tools, sites or people involved in Project CIARIS.
It's very neat and keeps me sane. But, in talking to Nancy I discover that she doesn't find it nearly so instinctive. And it made me realise how individual these tools are. They are tools for a collaborative experience, but your experience of the tools is very individual. And I'm intrigued to know how other people manage their different projects and tools.
Tags: Netvibes, projectmanagement, Web2.0