What if I could organise and search all my stuff?

Welcome to the first What if? post.

During the startup of my business I’ve had a problem. Actually, I’ve had this problem for some time but it’s come to a head while starting my business and throughout evaluating a few opportunities over the last couple of years. I find it hard to find all my stuff.

There’s an answer to finding other people’s stuff. It’s called a search engine. Your friend Google does a pretty good job of finding stuff that other people have published.

There’s an answer to organising and categorising stuff online. It’s called tagging. You can assign tags or keywords to your bookmarks (e.g. Delicious), your blog posts, your photos (e.g. flickr) etc. Other people can assign tags as well. Everyone is in tagging heaven.

There’s an answer to finding stuff on your own computer, and now mobile phones, through local search. Things like Spotlight on the Mac, Google Desktop and the like. You can search your files, emails and contacts. It isn’t perfect because you can’t alway find exactly what you want.

There’s and answer, albeit a very inefficient one, to organising and categorising stuff on your computer. It’s called a Folder. Folders have limitations such that it may be necessary to create two files in different locations to be able to find it when you’re looking for it. For example, if you want to organise your invoices, do you put them all in an invoices folder or do you stick them in a customer specific invoices folder. Maybe you put it in both? There are a few options for introducing keywords and tagging to files and information on your computer but they are either specific to a file type or they aren’t integrated with the underlying file system or miss certain types of information. For example, iPhoto allows you to tag photos, Punkea allows you to tag all broad range of files from across your computer.

So here comes the what if.

What if I had a document in google apps and wanted to be able to see that next to documents I may have created on my computer? What if my gmail contacts showed up next to to documents on my computer authored by that person. What if their twitter feeds and facebook updates showed up with that person as well.

What if there was a universal way of tagging all the information that you create, whether it’s offline or online, and a way to search all of that information, irrespective of what and where it is? It would definitely make my life a lot easier :) . With the proliferation of new online services every day, I would hazard a guess that it will make other people’s lives easier as well.

Another way to look at it would be – What if there was a search box that allowed me to look at all the stuff that I have created and saved on my computer and in online services?

Hmm, just a thought.

As with all of my posts, I’m happy to be corrected. Let me know if you’ve come across anything that already exists or if you want to expand on the What if? Maybe you’re in a position to solve the What if? I’d love to hear from you.