SimplyBox and Decentralized Collaboration

Oct 19, 2010

Update: This post has been modified following clarification of a few points by SimplyBox.

ReadWriteWeb has a nice writeup of SimplyBox, a new product from SocialCast intended to bring activity streams to existing IT systems rather than forcing users to maintain yet another application (web or desktop) for enterprise activity streams.  I recommend watching the demo video:

In general, I think it’s a great idea.  I definitely feel the pain of having too many different tools to use.  Granted, most of this pain (for me, anyway) is the number of different sets of credentials I have to maintain.  I am not nearly as hesitant to adopt a new tool if it allows for single sign on.  Still, fewer tools are better, in my opinion.

That being said, I think SimplyBox may take the mantra of decentralized collaboration one step too far.  While I wholeheartedly agree that allowing users to instantly access a tool or context-specific activity stream for different applications is a great idea, I think the reason email continues to have such a strangle hold on collaboration is precisely because it is a centralized place where one can quickly search, sort, and organize messages and contacts.  The video above didn’t showcase any ability of a user to quickly find a conversation whose “location” they’ve forgotten.  Perhaps this is simply a feature that wasn’t showcased or is still on the roadmap.  I hope so.  Update: SimplyBox does have centralized management functionality.

The fundamental point that I think needs to be made is that there is a very important difference between decentralizing the app in terms of how one can access it and tie it to specific contexts and decentralizing the data such that users have to spend more time hunting for information they’re after.

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