At some point – I do not remember exactly when – I needed to start to organise my life. I was, no doubt, a typical teenager and needed to keep addresses and ‘phone numbers for friends in a book. Then I needed a diary to organise my life (in fact, I am fairly certain my first diary was about 1984). So, I started to keep an appointment diary. The addresses and telephone numbers were in the back. Of course, back in the dark ages, I didn’t need to keep track of email addresses and mobile numbers. Each Christmas as a new diary was purchased for the forthcoming year the addresses/phone numbers were cleaned up and entered into a new book. Life was easier.
When I went to University then my diary started to become more of a necessity as I needed a way to organise. Sometime after I started work it morphed into a Filofax which helped organise a little more but wighted considerably more. But still the pages with the telephone numbers kept getting cleaned up each year. When I lived in a flat I started to need to keep more names and numbers (you know, the people who you have to pay bills to, the man who fixed the leak in the roof etc.).
In 1997 (I have the exact date somewhere) I bought a one of the original generations of Palm Pilot (specifically the Palm Pilot Professional as it had more memory than the personal version) and life – at least when it came to diaries and personal data – changed forever. Seven years on I can conclude that the addition of a digital diary (or personal information manager as they are known) has both made life easier and more frustrating in equal measures. Now, with the addition of mobile telephony to the device, I yearn for a simpler way.
I will be writing more later and when I have done I hope that somebody who develops these devices will come across my words and think about ways to come good on the promise of making the management of our personal data banks easier.