I don’t get overly excited about plug-ins but I think Xoopit may have shifted us into a new gear.
As part of a course I teach on journalist tools I do a demo of Gmail. I talk about it being the new desktop. But I’m only showing the bare bones of the thing: labels, filters, colors, stars.
For a lot of them, that’s an eye-opener in itself.
But it’s once you start talking about gadgets where you can access your calendar, your documents, your chat, then it really makes sense.
All good, but not really anything different to Outlook. Just lighter and accessible from anywhere.
But the arrival of an updated version of the plugin Xoopit, I think, really pitches webmail, well Gmail, into a new zone.
It has some basic stuff which is kinda useful. At the top is a row of picture attachments from recent emails:
Not that useful for me, but useful.
There are also links to videos and files: click on one and it takes you to a full listing of attachments, listable by type, date received, etc. You can even search by sender:
But still that’s not what impressed me, and convinced me we’re on the threshold of something brand new.
Read an email thread and Xoopit will pluck out those people involved in the conversation. It will display them on the right hand side of the thread. Not only that; it will try to grab their Facebook profile and image—even if you’re not connected to them on Facebook:
At a stroke I can now see who I’m talking to (in this case avoiding the catastrophe of misidentifying a woman as a man) and also see who we have in common:
To me this raises all sorts of possibilities. Suddenly my networks are beginning to talk to each other, to mine each other for data and work to close the gaps in them. I’m suddenly much better informed about the people I’m dealing with, without having to do lots of legwork.
Of course, this would be better if it was also searching LinkedIn (or maybe instead searching LinkedIn, in that I’d rather connect that way to a professional contact first.)
But it’s still the first time I’ve seen leveraging like this done in such a simple and unobtrusive way. It fits into my way of working rather than a lot of these network leveragers I’ve seen, which add to the clutter or try to automate things which should be manual.
More on that anon.
For now, congratulations Xoopit. I count this as the first step in a bright dawn of social networks and contact lists working for me rather than the other way around.
And I think it’s further proof that Gmail—or Yahoo! Mail, or any of the rich featured webmail offerings—are actually a workplace in themselves, around which can be built all sorts of useful tools mining our other networks.