It probably all comes down to quality

by Yule Heibel on February 11, 2008

A couple of days ago, I finished reading Walter Kirn‘s hilarious article, The Autumn of the Multitaskers, in the current issue of The Atlantic monthly. I suppose part of “successful” multitasking (if you grant that multitasking actually exists successfully in any way shape or form) is having a clear vision of what exactly it is you’re trying to accomplish. And having a clear vision of what the quality of that “way” should be (that’s a bit of a “zen” reference — the way is the goal and all that…)

Today I came across two new online services that promise to customize and micromanage my potential multitasks. In the latest MIT Technology Review, Erica Naone reports on a new start-up: “Maintaining Multiple Personas Online.” Naone’s article describes MOLI, which (as Naone’s subtitle explains), is a “new site [that] lets users create profiles for the different sides of their personality.”

Will this mean that your multiple personalities can multitask independently of one another? Walter Kirn must be doing backflips…

On the other hand, MOLI does seem to offer real help to the chronically (or promiscuously?) connected:

Online social networks have allowed people to easily stay in touch with large groups of friends, but the flip side has been well publicized. Some users have struggled over what to do when certain people–such as a boss or an ex-boyfriend–ask to be listed as a friend on their profile. Adding someone as a friend gives him access to the user’s profile, photos, and daily musings. Worries about privacy were renewed recently when Facebook’s Beacon advertising initiative began broadcasting information about users’ purchasing habits throughout its networks. (See “Evolving Privacy Concerns.”) Now Moli, a recently launched social-networking site, aims to win over concerned users. President and COO Judy Balint says that the site is intended for a more mature audience than the teenagers targeted by many social-networking websites. Directed at users who are trying to balance personal and professional networks, Moli offers multiple profiles–with different privacy settings–within one account.


Users of Moli can set up as many profiles as they want, and they can choose to make them public, private, or hidden. Anyone, whether he has signed up for Moli or not, can search for and view a public profile. A private profile will show up on searches, but to access it, a user must be a member of Moli and must have approval from the profile’s owner. A hidden profile is invisible in searches and can only be viewed by people invited by the owner. Balint says that users are free to set up multiple profiles of various types, with the requirement that they must designate at least one public profile.

Balint says that the site is also intended to appeal to small-business owners, who can use it to set up an intranet and extranet for free. For a fee, businesses can run a store through Moli.

And as if that weren’t enough, my husband just sent me this press release from a start-up based in Victoria’s own Vancouver Island Technology Park, a new company called Sprout:

MT Mind Technology announced the launch of its first product, Sprout, as a public beta on February 8th, 2008. Sprout is a new platform that sources hyper-personal online content. Sprout learns the user’s likes and dislikes based on simple positive and negative feedback. Designed with no initial set-up and a low cognitive load, users can start cultivating their content immediately.

To try Sprout for yourself, check out

Located at the Vancouver Island Technology Park in Victoria, BC, MT Mind Technology was founded in 2006 by Evan Willms and Duncan MacRae. The company is developing solutions for individuals and organizations to effortlessly avoid information overload.

According to Sprout‘s webpage, the service aims to personalize web content for all the yous you are:

Can a search engine, blog or newsreader personalize its content to suit your tastes perfectly? The straight answer is “no”. So, we designed Sprout to be everything they’re not; from its ability to pull the freshest content from thousands of sources online, to its ability to learn what you’re into and weed out the rest. That’s right, folks. The future of intelligent online content sourcing is here. And it’s leafy.

A new leaf. A fig leaf, too, perhaps? Could be very interesting.

…Now if only Walter wouldn’t make such a racket, jumping up and down! 😉

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Steve February 19, 2008 at 9:44 pm

Wondering if you’ve given Sprout a shot yet? It looks alright, want to get a consensus on things before I get my feet wet with it, though.

Yule February 19, 2008 at 10:10 pm

I haven’t, Steve, but that doesn’t mean much since I’m not omnivorous enough when it comes to my web consumption. It seems to me that if users range across a wide range of material, then Sprout would be quite handy. But for me, my focus is laser-like, and I guess (thinking out loud about it just now) that I rely on a trusted network of real people to “filter” or “guide” my consumption in any way.

…Which then begs the question of whether or how that could be maximized via any sort of web-based service. I suppose the closest thing to what I might want would be, alas not yet in Canada, though. That’s not a search engine guide or gatekeeper, but a network of real people — not keeping gates or anything, but spreading information.

Sprout should be very useful for many different sorts of users, especially for any who have specific business interests they need to keep up with, but as I said, I haven’t tried it myself.

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