I’m a big fan of mind mapping. For years I used MindJet’s MindManager application, but I’ve since migrated to the cloud based MindMeister. MindMeister is not as robust as MindManager, but it allows for collaborative brainstorming without client-side software. Over the last year or so, MindMeister has grown in capabilities, including offline mind mapping (through Google Gears), but lacked one critical element of useful mind mapping, cross connections. The latest release now incorporates that critical function, in addition to other features:
MindMeister News – Mind Mapping on Steroids
You can now add graphical cross-connection between your ideas in your mind maps, which will be displayed as green arrows. This feature is still beta, so please be kind. We’ll add more functionality here in future, such as control points and formatting.
MindManager is still more robust than MindMeister, but the later is quickly catching up. Mindjet has also begun to offer an online solution, but I haven’t had the time to review it. Quite frankly, MindMeister does the job for me.
Over the last few months I’ve been asked, a lot, by some smart folks on how web 2.0 and cloud computing are defined, and what their impact will be on technology as a whole. Since both terms are used very loosely, and often times by marketers who aren’t knowledgeable in either field, web 2.0 and cloud computing have somehow melded into one concept for many people. This, however, is not the right way to look at things. In a recent email to a friend I put forth my thoughts on the matter, and was busy recrafting a post from that email until I read Tim O’Reilly’s post this evening. As expected, his definitions are much better than mine. He also goes on to develop a case for the future impact of both concepts for the technology industry:
Web 2.0 and Cloud Computing – O’Reilly Radar
I believe strongly that open source and open internet standards are doing the same [migrating the point of profit] to traditional software. And value is migrating to a new kind of layer, which we now call Web 2.0, which consists of applications driven not just by software but by network-effects databases driven by explicit or implicit user contribution.
So when Larry Ellison says that cloud computing and open source won’t produce many hugely profitable companies, he’s right, but only if you look at the pure software layer. This is a lot like saying that the PC wouldn’t produce many hugely profitable companies, and looking only at hardware vendors! First Microsoft, and now Google give the lie to Ellison’s analysis. The big winners are those who best grasp the rules of the new platform.So here’s the real trick: cloud computing is real. Everything is moving into the cloud, in whole or in part. The utility layer of cloud computing will be just that, a utility, without outsized profits.
But the cloud platform, like the software platform before it, has new rules for competitive advantage. And chief among those advantages are those that we’ve identified as “Web 2.0”, the design of systems that harness network effects to get better the more people use them.
Read the whole post, it’s worthwhile.
A very robust discussion about could computing is going on over at the O’Reilly Radar, associated with this post:
Open Source and Cloud Computing – O’Reilly Radar
I’ve been worried for some years that the open source movement might fall prey to the problem that Kim Stanley Robinson so incisively captured in Green Mars: “History is a wave that moves through time slightly faster than we do.” Innovators are left behind, as the world they’ve changed picks up on their ideas, runs with them, and takes them in unexpected directions.
Image by stan via Flickr
Dion Hinchliffe, over at ZDNet, has a great description of cloud computing, why it’s gathering steam, and how it may impact enterprise applications in the years to come.
Enterprise cloud computing gathers steam | Enterprise Web 2.0 | ZDNet.com
The days when organizations carefully cultivated vast data centers consisting of an endless sea of hardware and software are not over, at least not yet. However, the groundwork for their eventual transformation and downsizing is rapidly being laid in the form of something increasingly known as “cloud computing.” This network-based model for computing promises to move many traditional IT capability out to 3rd party services on the network.
It’s a lengthy post that I would recommend everyone to read.
Om Malik just linked to an excellent post by Dare Obasanjo in which Dare takes a second look at the market for web 2.0 companies and reminds them that there are substantial differences between the early adopters and the real market that those companies are aiming for. As I’ve said in the past, I think Twitter is a classic example of a technology that may not make the leap across the chasm.
If you have wondered how to become more efficient with email, listen to Merlin (long, but worth watching):
I’ve written about Jott several times in the last five months, and it keeps getting better. The Jott crew, over the last few weeks, has improved the handling of Jotts, with the service now handling some great voice to text message broadcasting features. From their new release notes:
Just Jott. Jott creates email and text messages completely hands free. No more driving with your knees as you type (please!). With V2, you simply Jott — to yourself, other people, or groups. This means there is a change in our voice menu: we simply ask “Who do you want to Jott?”… For a jott to yourself, just say “Myself”.
- Instant Jotts. If your message to someone has to get there immediately, use Instant Jott. Simply press 1 after recording a message to someone, and we will deliver the jott as audio right away, with no transcription.
- As for Groups… Do you hate having to make phone calls to multiple people saying the same thing? Has the soccer game shifted to another location? Jott “Soccer Team”. Flight delayed? Jott “The office”. A little late filling the tank? Jott “carpool”. With V2, simply say the name of a group you’ve created, say your Jott, and you’re done.
I’ve got Jott hooked into my GTD workflow, and have begun to rely on it as much as the small notepad that I carry around. If you haven’t tried the service yet, you must (sorry, USA only at this time).
UPDATE: Check out this podcast from Robert Scoble with the Jott team.
One of the prominent Google watcher weblogs out there posted this morning about a possible Google online presentation program called Google Presently. Details are sketchy at the moment, but it’s not surprising that Google has a presentation application in the works given that most people have come to expect a true ‘office suite’ to include word processor, spreadsheet, and presentation capabilities. My hope is that Google begins the daunting process of tightly integrating all of their applications sooner rather than later. With the guys at Zoho setting a torrid pace on the integration front, Google has some catching up to do.
In the last year or so, the concept of storing large volumes of personal data online has begun to take hold among mainstream computer users. Online data storage has become abundant and cheap just as consumers have migrated to high speed data connections. While most people are still not comfortable with managing their files online – In my opinion this has more to do with clunky access to online files than with privacy – services like Mozy and Carbonite have ‘revolutionized’ the concept of data backup. Bill Burnham, however, provides some sobering thoughts about the rush to online data storage.
I think Bill is correct that we haven’t reached the online storage ‘holy grail’ yet. Services like the two I mentioned above are really nice and easy to use, particularly for those who don’t have the patience or foresight to backup on a regular basis. In fact, I use Carbonite to maintain a backup of my primary computer. I also, however, maintain an imaged backup of that same computer on another disk drive that is connected directly to it, and not dependent on internet connection speeds. Maybe I’m paranoid, or just the victim of previous backup disasters, but I like the added security of having the two pronged approach. Anyway, I think the online backup process will continue to improve and still should be used by those who don’t have any other standard approach to maintaining a reliable (albeit slow) backup process.
Carbonite is really easy to setup, and run….set it and forget it. The downside to a service like Carbonite is that it doesn’t offer remote access to the files that it backs up. The backup is done in an inaccessible, (and I’m assuming) proprietary format that can only be accessed to restore files, not to access them for general use.
This second part is where my frustration lies with the current set of online services. I’d like to be able to access my entire file structure in a manner that doesn’t require installing some proprietary software onto the PC that I happen to be using at the time. I’ve heard rumors that Carbonite may be introducing accessibility features in an upcoming release, but right now those are just rumors.
In the long run, as my Office 2.0 migration plans shake out, I plan to build and manage all my critical files directly on the internet through applications like Google Docs, Zoho Spreadsheet, Gliffy, and the like. In the meantime, I will continue to rely on a combination of Carbonite and local backup to keep my precious files safe.