Ovi's Blog on technology and the web

Tech trends shaping habits and social interaction

Two kinds of technologies have in recent months changed my daily habits and how I interact with people: web-based apps and smartphones.

Let’s start with web-based apps. For email I’ve been using Gmail for over three years now and is in my opinion the best email app around, web-based or desktop-based. For keeping track of appointments and daily tasks I use Google Calendar. For project management I use Basecamp from 37 Signals. For notes and idea-gathering I use PBWiki. For news I use Google News and Google Reader. And to interact with friends and colleagues I use Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. Netflix can also be added to the list as a tool for managing movies and TV shows I watch.

Mobile smartphone technology I’ve only felt the full impact of this past month using the Motorola Droid with Google’s Android platform. For appointments and reminders I use the Google Calendar app. For daily tasks and notes, I use Google Tasks. For driving directions including navigation I use Google Maps. Occasionally I read news using Google News and Google Reader. For contacts Android syncs my Gmail accounts and Facebook friends. I’ve even replaced my Zune with using the Droid as a portable MP3 player, which makes it better with apps like Last.fm and Slacker.

All of the above covers probably 50% of what I spend my time on daily. What makes everything useful is when both technologies work together. And when they work well together, you get these three impactful features:

Notifications – Like Facebook has in its bottom bar interface, Android has a global pulldown menu which gives you control over how you receive all kinds of notifications: email, text messages, Twitter tweets, Facebook posts, etc. While it can potentially get distracting, it can really become useful for managing your attention.

Centralized Contacts – All the people you interact with that you want to keep track of, in one place, easily searchable and filterable with multiple forms of contact for each person. Not to mention information available about each person that’s easily accessible.

Messaging – Not just text messages, but Twitter tweets, Facebook status updates, etc. Keeping up with what your social circle is doing is a big recent trend in technology and will only continue to grow. Mobile devices seems like the best place for it.

These three concepts change the way we interact with our daily routines and the people in our lives. For me, it’s also changed my perspective on how I handle these interactions, making me more aware of how I direct my efforts on a regular basis.

Originally published November 29th, 2009