Coming Soon: Software that Helps You Defrag Your Work

Loraine Lawson

I wish there was a utility that would defrag my life. And my brain.


Seriously -- the speed of life today and the multiple roles I manage mean I'm constantly working on things in tiny bits, storing them wherever I happen to be. It's one reason my desktops -- the ones on my PC, laptop and my actual desktop, not to mention my kitchen island -- are so cluttered.


I know I'm not alone, because now there's a software called Smart Desktop that's actually designed to help us bring together all those odd assortment pieces. In other words, it's a defrag utility for the way we work.


Smart Desktop is currently in beta, with plans to release in late 2008, according to Technology Review, and assuming it doesn't slow your system to a crawl, I suspect it will be wildly popular with office workers. It's a desktop software for Windows that "learns" when you're working on specific projects and tags that information accordingly. It marries components of Google Desktop -- the ability to search and find related items -- to a really organized administrative assistant.


For instance, if you're working on an Excel spreadsheet for the IT Business Edge account, it'll figure that out and offer to save the spreadsheet in the IT Business Edge folder -- rather than the generic "My Documents" or desktop. It can also find related URLs from your browser's history and pull up relevant Outlook e-mails.


It's not mentioned in the Technology Review article, but it can also track how you spend your time, which will help with client billing but might not appeal to those who don't want to be micromanaged and over-monitored.


The company's website also indicates it will offer a Smart Desktop Framework for IT. This product will help you track application and even application feature usage and "understand how information flows in your organization."


Technology Review notes that Microsoft also is working on a similar desktop assistant through its Center for Information Work. Hopefully, it won't involve resurrecting that talking paper clip.


It's interesting to note that this smart solution evolved from a cutting edge research project called Task Tracer at Oregon State University. According to the Technology Review article, Task Tracer was a part of the CALO artificial-intelligence project, which focused on using machine-learning techniques to build learning desktop applications.

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