Too many PIM tools, not enough PIM interoperability

I regularly feel the bite of too many PIM tools… and not enough PIM interoperability.

Ferinstance, right now…

I’m using MLO as my core To-do tool with some satisfaction so far, as discussed here.

No to-do tool really does a good job with tracking Jerry Seinfeld’s “Don’t Break the Chain” stuff (mainly because they lack a rich set of recurrence patterns, stuff like “every 2-3 days” or “at least 4 times a week”), so I use an Android app, HabitBull, for that: decent, nice visuals, wish it were cross-platform.

(BTW, I generally get the Pro [pay] versions of these apps; first of all, they generally have features I like, but, more importantly, I wrote software for a living for 20+ years; I want the people who write these apps to make a living from it too.)

Now I’ve started messing around with Jane McGonigal’s “SuperBetter” methodology and app.  I got interested in her stuff through Tim Ferriss’ blog on her.  Her shtick is that you gain on problems by using know-how from gaming.   Not gamification (badges and other superficial rewards), which is dorky, but what she calls a “gameful” approach to problems.  I’m a little embarrassed about the game vocabulary and gloss — “power-ups”, “bad guys”, “quests” — but not really embarrassed enough not to try it.  And my attitude has always been, like Jurgen the pawnbroker, “I’ll take any drink once.”

Finally, I’ve been intrigued by the bullet journal, which is a compact diary with some elements of life-tracking.

So, MLO, HabitBull, SuperBetter, Bullet journal (in OneNote).  Four systems to keep in sync, to keep up-to-date.  What a pain (although, of course a First-World pain.)

Why can’t these platforms interoperate?

Two problems, one lesser, one greater:

Lesser Problem: they hang onto their own data.  As we used to say back in the PC revolution of the ’80’s, they all have an Import but none of them has an Export.  Or not a very good Export.

Greater Problem: It still takes a Master Ontology to comprise all of them, and keeping a Master Ontology up-to-date is a nightmare.

Wouldn’t it be nice if they could interoperate without an ontology, or with a very light one?  Stay tuned.

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