partial recall

a blog of ideas, links, and musings.

Are You a Swiss Army Knife or a Toolbox?

As I think about personal information management, or PIM, I often oscillate between the strengths and weaknesses of technology consolidation and separation. Let me explain…

Right now I have a Palm, an iPod, a mobile phone, and a digital camera. In addition, I use a pc at work and a Mac at home.

There are some persons who do not like to have so many separate technology devices and think that consolidation is the answer. For instance, at home I have a printer/scanner, which allows me to save valuable office space.

More recently, there’s been a buzz surrounding the new Mac mini and how it can be used to consolidate a lot of media devices. I agree with the idea of using a computer to be the central hub for all things information. In that way, I prefer my computer to be a Swiss Army Knife. However, when it comes to devices for music, photos, PIM, etc., I think I prefer the toolbox, or separation approach. Why? I have two reasons:

  1. Security – If I lose a phone like a Treo, I am potentially losing a phone, a camera, a PIM, an MP3 player…you get the point. Hopefully all of the information stored on the Treo was recently backed up to my computer, but think of the devastating effects of losing a device that stores so much information I deem important to me?
  2. Quality – Sure, some manufacturers are doing a pretty good job producing a quality multifunctional product, but so far I have not seen a product that performs each function in an exemplary fashion. For example, my Epson scanner/printer does neither exceptionally well, but does a good enough job. Same thing with a digital camcorder that also has still photo capabilities.

I am thankful for sites like Flickr, My Yahoo,, Furl and others because they attempt to provide a central repository for storing information I find important. That way as I move from computer to computer or from one technology device to another, I can always access the information that is important to me.

(As an aside, I think the next big site, as the cost for storage drops, would be for users to not only share their musical tastes, like Audioscrobbler, but to be able to securely save (not share) their MP3s to one central location for access anywhere.)

Nevertheless, I think I am more of a “Toolbox” person than a “Swiss Army Knife” guy…

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