About a month ago, I discovered I Want Sandy, which is a virtual Personal
Assistant (PA) service. Not that I necassarily need a PA (though one would be
nice), but that this was a service I could use to jot notes down, track my ideas
and – most importantly – use it through my existing networking channels,
principally, Twitter. Sandy was great, you could send her a message such as “Remind to pick up the shopping at 6” and “she” would create an appointment for you and remind you when the time came. “She” can be asked to do things using email (including replying to emails and copying her in – she would read it and pick up the paragraphs relevant to her), Twitter and her web site. Then, she would remind you using the same media, web-site, email and Twitter. US
users could also be SMSed their reminders.
Modern web services seem to be going simple – really simple. Sandy was simple
at the core, it was just an appointment book. Twitter is just a glorified SMS
broadcasting system. Such simple components can then be used in mash-ups, to
create new applications.
It’s hard to believe that from a difficult start with Twitter 6 months ago
that it has come to be such an important part of my digital life. Random
thoughts and comments coming in to me from those I follow and going out to those who follow me do occasionally have gems in them that can inspire me to look
further into an area of interest, follow current events as they happen and
(hopefully) contribute the same to others. Most importantly, unlike reading
people’s blogs, it requires low commitment on the part of the subscriber.
Unfortunately, Sandy looks like she is joining the increasing number of
redundancies as of 15th December, but this time you won’t need to bail her out
as you have had to do with the banks and possibly (and probably) America’s
[ignorant] car industry. “She” has been acquired by Twitter. As “Sandy’s Helpers” say in their sad news about the end of Sandy’s service, this does raise some interesting ideas of what possible applications could be made with
such a direct integration of the two services. While Sandy’s helpers are giving
nothing away, it’s still exciting to think what could be:
Delayed Twittering, already done by some sites (sorry, couldn’t re-find them)
but why not combine it within the core Twitter service. This delayed Twittering
could be easily wrapped up in a “reminder” metaphor. The number of services that
have ballooned around the Twitter service is incredible, many of them offering
very simple services which I struggle to see as economically viable in terms of
paying for the hosting. From pictures with TwitPic to Grading by Grader. Maybe
it’s time for Twitter to reap the benefits of what services have been successful
and wrap them within their core product?
Twitter interacting with your inbox: Sandy could be instructed to create
reminders, jot notes, etc. by just copying her email address into a standard
email. This was very neat, and did not detract from the conversation in hand –
the recipient had no need to understand who (or what) she was. No complicated
code sequences, just straight plain English. Combining Twitter with your inbox
in a similar way could be used to generate Twitter content at the same time. For
example, as an extra channel for bulk e-Marketing. Send an enewsletter out and
have the enews “activate” a Twitter feed linking to the enews page on a web
It doesn’t look like any changes will come soon, as with anything
Twitter-ish, feature roll out is very slow and often very unreliable as demand
often outstrips capability. So, I guess we’ll just have to wait.