So Many Things To Do

A certain power blogger whispered something in my ear about 43 Things, and mentioned it online. He told me, “it’s like Flickr now,” and what kind of internet/web service/efficiency/information junkie, would I be without checking out something like that?

The UI
At first visit, one is presented with a display very reminiscent of the tags browser on Flickr. It’s really a great visualize of popularity, useful in Flickr to bring more order to ethnoclassifications (aka “folksonomies“), and useful in 43 Things to make the cream, the most attractive things to do, float to the top, showing you things that you are likely to identify with that you may not have thought of yourself. Del.icio.us, by the way, should toss out a nice visualization like this for its popular tags view.

Clicking on any of the items brings you to the detail page for that item, a page I am very impressed with. All the pertinent relational information you could ask for is displayed on this page, making full use of the faceted, database-driven nature of the content. Sections on the detail page include:

  • a short list of other people who have the goal, <3 implicit relationships;
  • other goals that are popular among those who had the goal, “Customers who bought this title also bought;”
  • comments and entries about the goal;
  • tags this goal falls under, which is helpful for finding related goals;
  • an RSS feed to keep tabs on information related to the goal;
  • a list of people who have accomplished the goal and their rating of it;
  • and, a small item that is all too frequently left out of these kind of pages, a big button to quickly add this goal to your own list.

Among the other pages, things are generally as you would expect them to be, always giving you the option to add a goal, and always showing you a list of recent goals added by others. It even has Flickr integration for your profile, displaying a few of your recent Flickr photos if you give it your Flickr username.

A couple additions/changes I would like to see:

  • Don’t make me click “Add another goal” before I can start typing, or at the very least make the selection box auto-focus once I do so that I can simply type in a goal and hit enter quickly. Sites like these require the absolute minimum number of clicks and delays to work with otherwise nobody will take the time to use them.
  • Use some fancy javascript and give me a drag-and-drop interface to re-order my list from my main list page.
  • Likewise, give me the ability, like Flickr, to change the name and delete items from my list page or any other page they are displayed on.

The Service
The goal (get it?!) of the site is quite straightforward, the people involved make lists of tasks they wish to accomplish. It is, effectively, a big todo list that everybody else gets to see. Useful extras are included to bring the site up into the ‘Web 2.0’ crowd, such as quickly posting an item to a blog of yours and displaying your latest Flickr images. Of course, they also provide RSS feeds, because, you know, everything has to now.

The site gives me the option of creating a profile (do I hear SXIP?), which is a feature I’ve come to expect from any site that has users; we are in an age where the internet is becoming a constant social interaction and without a way to find out more information about anybody you might come across the possibilities for future interactions diminish quickly. It isn’t really that incredible that the site provides the ability for a profile, I simply wanted to point out that I think every site should do so, from blogs to magazines to product reviews.

The biggest next step for them to take, and I am sure it is quite an obvious one, is to provide an API in the style of del.icio.us and Flickr. It is certainly being worked on, though, as this site seems too together not to have thought of it. My only fear in this department is that their only revenue is from ads and providing an API will significantly decrease their visibility.

A couple other things I think would be useful to add:

  • Offers of assistance, maybe something along the lines of a site like Are You My Hero?
  • Suggestions on the best ways for accomplishing a goal, even provide a templated system for creating how-to guides.
  • Add other people to a watchlist so that I can see when they add new goals, or just use the standard “Add this person as a contact” concept.
  • It might be fun to link goals to Flickr images or sets, displaying “related images.”
  • Suggesting goals for other people. It is possible to invite people to existing goals, but not to simply supply a new goal.
  • iCal support, duh.
  • Provide alarms, reminders, or triggered events so that you can be reminded about a goal via email, sms, or IM.

The Conclusion
Overall, seems like a fun site, and once they provide an API it may be useful to me for my own todo list machinations. I plan to begin adding things to my list like a maniac, and see whether I feel better about myself afterwards.

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