Keep on Pushing: Web 2.0 Still Needs to Nag a Bit


I posted a message yesterday to our team collaboration tool asking everyone to remember to push me an e-mail when they post a message or a file.


Of course, a big promise of this kind of software is that it will free us from the flood of e-mail that consumes so much of our professional lives.


Apparently, I have become addicted to the flood.


Our software, 37Signals' hosted solution Basecamp, allows message posters to subscribe other users for e-mail updates on threads they start.


In fact, Basecamp sends you a complete transcript of message items. I never read these mails, mind you -- I just glimpse at the folder shortcut I've set up for these mails in Outlook, and if it shows unread messages, off I go to the collaboration site to read up or -- if my team is particularly unlucky -- chime in.


A totally inefficient use of e-mail, I know. But I have, over the last 20 years, become accustomed to "push" communication -- if somebody wants to talk to me, they can tell me. Sounds pretty basic, but like many professionals, I have numerous tasks to shuffle daily, and brainstorming with the team is typically not the most urgent thing on my plate.


Note I didn't say not the most important. I think collaboration is downright vital, and that's led me to hunt around for software to support that initiative, even though I tend to growl when I hear "Web X.0" bandied about every time somebody redesigns a bulletin board system. (In fact, we've upgraded to a more applicable toolset since I last blogged on this topic.)


All in all, I like Basecamp a lot, although I would agree with this PCWorld.com post that it's really more of a nifty collaboration platform than a full-on project management tool. I was introduced to Basecamp by a consultant we are using on a big initiative, and we use it for project manpagement by posting Microsoft Project reports for comment.


All in all, our team -- both in-house and outside contributors -- have warmed up to Basecamp. But collaboration does tend to slide into the background, particularly at SMBs and young companies, like our own.


If I were going to suggest one upgrade to Basecamp, it would be a widget or client of some sort that would blink at me when there is new activity on our projects. Not entirely unlike an IM client running in the background. Basecamp does generate RSS feeds, but the obvious need to authenticate users to what has to be a closed system cuts most RSS readers, most notably Google, out of the picture. So perhaps a dedicated RSS tool would do the trick.


Just something to absolve me of remembering to go check in on the teamsite daily.


I don't ask for much.

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Add Comment      Leave a comment on this blog post
Jan 17, 2008 1:07 PM Dylan May Dylan May  says:
Well, it's great to see that Basecamp works for you. I gave up on it and turned to Wrike http://www.wrike.com. It's integrated with my inbox and it's got due dates and Gantt charts. That's the reason :) Reply
Jan 17, 2008 8:01 PM Nick Matteucci Nick Matteucci  says:
Hi there,I enjoyed your article and sympathize with using Basecamp and trying to get everyone on the same page. Wouldnt you be better suited with a solution that does real project management and integrates with MS Project (without the costs, complexity, and instability of MS Project Server?). Sadly, our better known competitors (like Basecamp) came out with "PM for dummies" that really is nothing more then a mash up web-based Excel spreadsheet. IMO they are more interested in their exist strategy (heavily bought into by Jeff Bezos / Amazon VC) then fixing simple things their software should do easily and other things their software should never do. For example - it was uncovered that everyone's Basecamp passwords can be seen in plain text across the internet when the people page is viewed by any admin. Inexcusable.They admit it / See for yourself: http://forum.37signals.com/basecamp/forums/5/topics/4104If you want simple, sensible, and supportable REAL project management, I would welcome you to try our software, VPMi Professional. It includes projects, resource capacity planning, templates, programs, MS Project integration, and workflow - all for only $10/user/month (report viewer/timesheet user) or $30/user/month (PMs). It is free for first 30 days and we have an extensive video training collection to help you get started. This has been our life's work and we will still be doing this successfully long after the VCs are done playing. I am also the Chief Technology Officer for the Project Management Institute (PMI) Information Systems SIG (ISSIG) and blog on Virtual Teams and selecting project management software here: http://www.pmi-issig.org/Learn/ExpertsBlogs/tabid/74/BlogID/6/Default.aspxI wish you luck in whatever you land on (everyone eventually bails on Basecamp) and you can feel free to write us with any questions you might have. Best Regards, Nick Matteuccinmatteucci@vcsonline.com Partner and Co-Founder VCSonline.com VPMi = Simple + Sensible + Supportable Web 2.0 Project Management Reply
Jan 17, 2008 8:03 PM Mark Phillips Mark Phillips  says:
For a more full on project management tool Vertabase does the job for tons of people - http://www.vertabase.comThere's a free trial on the site. Reply
Jul 30, 2008 2:41 PM mark mark  says:
I think you would like using Clarizen Project Software http://www.clarizen.com. It has much more versatility when it comes to collaboration and it is a great Project management tool. BTW it has a great email function that allows you to update and participate via your e-mail. - Reply

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