Michelle Murrain, The Nonprofit Open Source Initiative
Like many consultants, I deal with different kinds of data every day. These can be divided into four different types: data that needs analysis (income and expenses or web site hits, for example), data that is actionable (e-mail, to do lists, phone messages), data that needs to be accessible in a moment (client phone numbers, web site passwords), and data that can sit untouched until I need to find it.
Between my multiple computers, and my penchant for Web 2.0 applications, I have an unfortunate multiplicity of data locations, which I usually manage to back up, when I remember they exist. Of course, just about every single data type has its own interface: my address book holds addresses, a web application holds project management data, my hard drive is full of documents, and of course, my e-mail client is full of unanswered email.
I’m a science fiction fan. Science fiction lets us wish for all sorts of wonderful things. I remember a story where the protagonist had been out chasing aliens. He comes home, and a dulcet voice says something like, “You have 15 new messages. 10 are from colleagues, 3 are solicitations for products you are likely to be interested in, and 2 are from your mother. Which would you like to hear first?”