Tom Petrocelli's take on technology. Tom is the author of the book "Data Protection and Information Lifecycle Management" and a natural technology curmudgeon. This blog represents only my own views and not those of my employer, Enterprise Strategy Group. Frankly, mine are more amusing.

Friday, March 30, 2007

Stikkits: Cool Technology You Can Use

While reading Boing Boing (one of the strangest yet most entertaining blog sites on the Internet) I was alerted to a neat company called Value of N. They offer a free web-based product that I have grown truly enamored with. The product is called Stikket. The Stikket site allows you to create and manage sticky notes on-line. Nothing new there really. For example, Yahoo! has Yahoo! Notepad. It allows you to create on-line notes that can conveniently be accessed via a Yahoo! Widgets widget or the Yahoo! website. Google Desktop has a similar feature as well.

Stikket, however, does way more then your typical notepad application. It includes a to-do list, calendar, and bookmarking system. Again, other services have these as well. They are not as well integrated but they do exist. What sets Stikkets apart is that everything is derived from the sticky note, called a stikket. The Value of N software analyzes what is written in the note for clues that tell it how to manage the content of the note. For example, if you say “remind me” in the note, it will send you a reminder via e-mail. If you say “Order Books Tomorrow” it will create a calendar entry for “Order Books” with tomorrow's date. It can recognize e-mail address, hyperlinks, and other typical clues. There is a simple and natural way to list items as to-do list entries that can be checked off. The stikket itself is then listed in the To-Do section as well.

What is remarkable is that bookmarks, to-dos, tags, and calendar entries are not treated as separate items. The stikket drives everything. At the very least, you always have the original note which could contain much more information then a typical calendar entry. In fact, a stikket could be interpreted as a calendar entry while portions inside as to-dos.

In the same manner as the MyStuff system, you can create a bookmark for a website. However, to paraphrase Fred in the movie “Valley Girl”, it's not what they do, it's the way they do it that makes the difference. You can save a link on your toolbar to create a stikket. If you click on it while on a website, it pops up a stikket with the URL embedded in it and categorized as a bookmark. You can add to the stikket just like any other stikket. The software will also analyze the content of the page and provide a ready-made list of tags for the stikket. Neat!

Which brings us to yet another great feature – tagging. You can tag in a number of ways including explicit tags (say “tag as...” in your stikket) or by letting the software figure it out from the content. It is another example of content driven features that makes Stikkets so useful. At this time explicit tagging is the only reliable way to tag a stikket but I'm betting that will change.

But wait! There's more! Stikket contains collaboration features, again driven by the content of the stikket. Make a note in the stikket to share it with someone, or reference them by Stikket name or their e-mail, and copies of the stikket are made available to others. You can even send reminders and assign tasks this way.

A simple, familiar interface belies so much power. There are some features (like peeps) that I haven't even explored yet. Stikkets almost seems to understand what I want it to do without me telling it explicitly. Now that's automation. I'm hoping they can succeed. More likely they will be consumed by some big on-line company. In a way that would be good since this functionality would then become even more widespread. I would love to see this in office productivity applications or CRM packages. Hey Microsoft! You listening?

Next up on the Value of N landscape, an e-mail assistant with some similar features. Called IwantSandy, it promises to look at the content of your e-mail and automate the process of setting events, managing your address book, and organizing e-mail. That may prove to be a truly killer app.

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