[I know I haven’t been very active here… I’m not leading a life of the mind so much of late… Very much caught up in what it takes to help run Adaptive Path, which is very much a matter of rolling up sleeves and simply getting things done. All that said…]
So, I’ve been involved in an actual project lately, working in the world of financial services. A big challenge that users have is overwhelm, particular when it comes to investment choices, account types, and the near infinite permutations of the two. We realized that people need to be able to easily save/store/set-aside such choices and account types, so that they can come back to them later, or be able to manipulate them free from the rest of the site experience.
The approach we found ourselves moving toward was akin to the Yahoo Gobbler explained by Bill Scott a few months ago, which is similar-ish to Google Notebook.
And thinking about it, and thinking of the overwhelm that people increasingly face trying to get things done online is making me feel that the Gobbler paradigm is likely emergent, particularly with Ajax enabling a seamless interaction with such a tool. I wouldn’t be surprised if we see gobbling functionality provided across a variety of sites.
I know of at least two other recent projects of ours where this paradigm has popped up: the Cable News network and the Travel And Lifestyle magazine. I wouldn’t be surprised to hear that it came up on the Home And Garden television project as well. It’s interesting to see it appearing in so many diverse contexts — it makes me think this might be something browsers need to be doing, not sites.
Google’s notebook is essentially that… It’s an add-on to Firefox. In our design for the financial services site, though, we don’t want something all-purpose and generic. We want a financial-services gobbler, that understands the data model of financial services (securities, mutual funds, fees, percentage change over time, etc.). I think it will work best when tailored to the specific experience at hand.