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Gmail hub and nerve center

google-logoRecently I read an article about turning Gmail into your personal hub and nerve center, by Steve Rubel. If you have not read it yet, I suggest that you do. They actually contain helpful and insightful ways of thinking, and offer fresh ideas for using many of the tools available to us today. The biggest problem I see is that many of his solutions include third party applications and workarounds. Seems to me that this is a bubble gum and duct tape sort of solution. What we are missing is the seamless integration of different parts.

I confess that I do use Gmail and believe it to be an excellent tool, despite it’s borg like nature. Gmail is handy. A few months back when my book keeper asked me for a receipt that I’d forgotten to print previously, I was able to find the receipt in Gmail in just a few seconds by typing the exact dollar amount into the Gmail search. Being able to retrieve the email receipt almost instantly shows that Gmail is amazingly useful and powerful.

However using the Google bookmarking tools is inadequate compared to other places, such as delicious. I love delicious for their bookmarking tools, but they lack the ability to permanently archive a copy of the page, such as furl.net does. So if the page disappears or falls victim to linkrot I don’t lose the data with furl. None of the bookmarking services have a really good search function. Delicious let’s you search your own notes, but not the actual page or archived content.

Google Reader is a great tool, and I’m a big user of it. The new search feature is wonderful. If everyone who published RSS feeds published them in full instead of partial that would increase the usefulness of Google Reader, which isn’t really Google’s fault.

An additional problem is that these services do not communicate with one another. They don’t share data. It is up to me to remember if I bookmarked something in delicious or read it in Google Reader. Even if I were using all Google services there is no way to search through everything at the same time.
Google Desktop comes close as it allows you to search your computer as well as the network drives you have specified, and your emails (if you can managed to configure your firewall for that). But it does not search your Google Reader feeds, or any of the bookmarking services you use.

I suggest a tighter integration of these already existing services. You should be able to type your keywords into a search box and get results from your calendar, email, RSS feeds, bookmarks, Flickr photos, and even news services.

If that sounds like a personalized search then you missed something. I did not include pages from the web at large in the list. Google Desktop has an option that allows you to decide whether or not to include web results. That’s as it should be.

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