2010: what a difficult year for so many reasons. Too few jobs. Too many social media companies. Too many mobile apps. The online experience is getting like the supermarket, and makes me yearn for a boutique experience. I want someone to save me some time by selecting their "best of" experiences, so I'm offering you mine in the hope that you will offer me yours. For me, this was a year of sorting through things and finding some that truly work for me.
But I'm also beginning to think taste in applications is like taste in wine: not everyone likes the same things.
Of the many things I try, some are irrelevant ("Angry Birds") and some just don't resonate with me the way they do with other people (Flipboard.) But every once in a while I find a game-changer for myself, and I like to recommend it to others. So here goes for 2010. Don't hold me to accuracy here about when these products or companies launched. They may not have launched in 2010, but that's when I discovered them.
1) Gist - I've got the Gist extension in my browser now, and it supplies me with background information on everyone who sends me an email. Once a day it sends me a curated list of wall posts, blog posts, and tweets by people in my contact list, so I can follow them efficiently and closely. I learn quite a bit from Gist about what the "important" people in my business life are doing. Also my friends.
2)Ideeli - Every day I get an email from Haute Look, one from Ideeli, and one from ShopItTo Me. They all contain sale merchandise. Of the three, I like Ideeli best because it is not only women's clothing (of which I can only buy so much), but also housewares, getaways, and experiences. It aspires to be a curator of more than just a single thing. If it develops the way I think it should, it may end up being a push version of Amazon.
3)Evernote - I've learned to use Evernote to organize my life. I draft blog posts there during conferences that don't have free wi-fi, or on airplanes. I store my passwords and account numbers there. And I've got a special place for recipes. I wonder what I did before Evernote.
4) Timely -A new service from the popular small business marketing aid Flowtown, Timely uses an algorithm to schedule your tweets at the best time for your business or your purpose. It's still in testing, but it has a bookmarklet for your browser.
5) Kinect Dance Central - Although this "game" makes me remember that I can't follow and prefer to lead, I love all the songs and I am addicted to the concept of getting exercise for points. It's the same principal as going off to play tennis, or running a marathon, only in the living room to music. I think the Xbox with Kinect is a game changer; I tried the Wii and gave it up. Xbox is different. When you are the controller, it's much more fun.
6) TripIt Pro - When I make a plane reservation, I email the confirmation to email@example.com, where it is stored until I need it. TripIt Pro sends me alerts when it's time to check in to my flight, and more alerts when the flight is either delayed or pulled in. It also suggests alternates. This is the best travel app I can imagine. TripIt has many other features, like a list of who else is taking the same trip, but I am less interested in those.
7) Nutshell Mail - Acquired by Constant Contact in 2010, Nutshell Mail sends me an email an hour summarizing the Facebook and Twitter activities of my friends and colleagues. If you sit in email all day, as I often do, and don't have time to read what's going on over all the social media sites, this is a good summary.
8) Amplify - here's a service that has gotten more traction outside Silicon Valley than inside. It's an all-purpose tool that serves as blogging or micro-blogging platform, clipping service, and Ping.fm-like narrowcaster to social networks of your choice. It also has a bookmarklet so you can share web clippings and a button that helps you share your own site posts. It's simple, but very powerful.
9) Backupify - This nifty little tool backs up my tweets, Facebook posts, Gmail, and any other social media stuff you give it, just in case you have a plan for your use of social media and you don't want it to be ephemeral.
10) Skype Chat - I discovered this when my daughter moved to London, and we had difficulty coordinating the time differences. I had Skype on my desktop for years, but never opened it during the work day unless I had to make an overseas phone call. Now I leave it open all the time, and I've discovered several of my clients and companies do as well. I came late to the table to Skype, but now I'm fully engaged. I've turned off all my other chats.