A Web PIM that’s not dim

In the early ’90s, I wrote reviews for MacWEEK magazine; it was the tail end of what I’d consider the golden age of Mac software; there were lots of fresh approaches to tasks. I reviewed many interesting personal information managers. In addition to the staples of the day — Now Up-to-Date and Now Contact — I evaluated organizational tools such as Rae Assist, Chena Software’s InfoDepot, Common Knowledge’s Arrange, and Attain’s In Control, the latter two of which were among my favorites — really useful products.

Unfortunately, none of those companies made it. Perhaps they would have done better in this age of Internet distribution and Apple stores. I still miss In Control, which elegantly combined an outliner with a spreadsheet. The Omni Group’s OmniOutliner looks like a terrific, and perhaps even superior, modern-day implementation for Mac OS X that even has a free (as in beer) version available. I haven’t seen anything like it for Windows.

So, I don’t get too excited when I see AJAX applications come close to approximating the functionality of desktop software but not demonstrate much rethinking of personal organization. It seems that’s all about to change with Scrybe, which, from its first video preview, blows the banners off other online calendars and seems more fluid than any desktop calendar I’ve ever seen. It also has a terrific approach to Web information gathering.

Going far beyond their self-proclaimed holy grail of offline browser-based access, Scrybe’s developers have thought through information management so well that they’ve incorporated specialized paper printouts for on-the-go pocket information. Indeed, this was an early key feature of DynoDEX, an early Mac address book that printed out pages compatible with popular paper-based organizers years before Palm Computing introduced its first digital one. It will be interesting to see how far they take unstructured data. Here’s a tip for them, though: add columns to Scrybe’s lists, like In Control did. It expands their usefulness exponentially.

Scrybe’s next video will focus on its collaboration features; this could get viral very quickly. I can’t believe I’m excited about a Web calendar.

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