A new Agenda, this time for all of us

I followed Eirik Newth‘s recommendation and listened to the Gillmor Gang’s discussion of the ramifications of Microsoft’s announcement that Longhorn will be missing the WinFS file system when it comes out in 2006. Setting aside that this is further evidence that Microsoft has become 1980s IBM (including the practice of preemptive announcements and the time-honored “midlife kicker”), an interesting comment made by one of the particpants intrigued me: That Microsoft by having this delay may give away a large market to Google.
Despite having worked with computers for quite a while now, I still have problems getting used to what we can do with abundant processing, storage and communication. Google’s 1Gb Gmail, coupled with blogging/wikiing/blikiing technology and (still for a while) graphics processing at the desktop, can presumably mean a return to the mainframe topology – that is, all your apps and all your data can be on Google.
This is not as far-fetched as it sounds – essentially, the problem of storage is not size of files, but duplication. I have hundreds of presentations, but probably also hundreds of copies of my favorite slides. A networked information format, with component-based information items linked together to form documents – across users, accounts, and organizations, could conceivably be stored on the 100,000 and counting servers that Google has. A very clean Wiki-based interface could be the preferred way to go for those of us who want deeply functional, simple software.
Many years ago, Lotus had a wonderful product called Agenda – text-based, freeform, lightning-fast (and, apparently, still available). The problem was unsupported file formats and limitations on content size – and the product eventually was abandoned in favor of the elephantine Lotus Notes. Imagine an Agenda-style software, stored in one place, with little duplication and a very simple interface. XML-based content, separation of content and display, sensible design choices and global search.
Well, one can dream, but I think this is getting a little closer to reality once we let go of the client-centric model of computing we seem to be clinging to. Fun.
Incidentally, I will listen more to the Gillmor Gang and the other stuff at ITconversations.com. Interesting stuff, picked up in a format that reminds me that all these bloggers and digerati out there are real people, available for a teleconference if only the topic and the audience is interesting enough.

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