I’m a geek. Understanding that little fact puts me a little closer to being in touch with myself, and understanding that I’ve got a habit of trying out every new service or technology that comes along. That’s fun, but in the case of online services, I wind up with accounts all over the place. So, the past few days I’ve been pruning my online accounts down to what I really need.
I started out with AOL in the ’90s, and quickly learned that AOL masked the rest of the Internet, and that all I needed was a connection and a real browser. From there, I went to Hotmail, and stuck with Hotmail for several years, up until the time I bought my first Mac. Since getting an iBook in ‘03 I’ve had a .Mac account, but it hasn’t always been the best email service. I also tried Yahoo mail, but I’ve never liked any of the Yahoo services… too gaudy for my taste. Then came Gmail, which is an excellent service, and one that I’ve stuck with for quite a while now. However, there’s also the new MobileMe, which promises to synchronize everything everywhere, and since MobileMe offers a ton of other features, and integrates seamlessly into my MacBook, I’m sold on it. I’ve actually gone back and forth between MobileMe and GMail quite a bit. Since Gmail can download pop3 mail and send mail as my MobileMe account, it makes it easy to switch over to it. However, I’m not a big fan of the Gmail design, or any of the skins that I’ve seen, and I really like to use Mail.app for my email. I could use pop with Gmail, which works great, or I could use IMAP, which doesn’t work so great with Gmail but works perfectly with MobileMe. I also really love the visual design of MobileMe. I think it’s uncluttered and smooth. No ads (since it’s a paid service).
So, anyway… I wind up with five or six email accounts spread out across the interwebs. I’ve been closing them one at a time, and it’s not always easy. A lot of companies, like Microsoft and Yahoo, will not just close your account straight off. You have to request that it be closed and then not attempt to log back in under that user name for three or four months.
I’ve had accounts on MySpace, Facebook, LinkedIN, Friendster, Orkut, Del.icio.us, Flickr, Twitter, Pounce… and probably a few more that I cannot think of right now. I thought all of them were fun, but of limited functionality. Over the past couple weeks I’ve pruned them down to Twitter and Flickr, and I think I’ll keep it at that. Twitter is fun, and it’s got some additional services that I use every day. I follow CNN Breaking News, and get a text message as soon as some important news story develops. It’s not too frequent, only really big stuff. Some of the people I follow also point out some really cool stuff on twitter that they don’t mention anywhere else. Flickr is a great photography site, and I’ve had a pro account in the past, but not now. One reason I’m really not happy with Flickr is that I have to have a Yahoo account to use it. I’ve already said that I don’t like Yahoo that much, and would much rather close the account all together. Also, MobileMe has a photo sharing service that integrates right into iPhoto, although that service is not nearly as “social” as Flickr, it’s still a way to get my pictures out there. If I can find a way to integrate the MobileMe galleries into Wordpress we’ll be in business. I consider the relationship between Flickr and myself “Under Review”. Del,icio.us = same story… great service… bought by Yahoo… I don’t want a Yahoo account.
When I was looking at a replacement for MobileMe, I needed a replacement for iDisk. The best I could find was Box.net, but I could never get the webdav mount working properly in Linux. iDisk works great, pretty much every time, I rarely have a problem with it. Also, I can sync my iDisk locally to my Mac, which means I still get off line access. If, that is, I were ever off line. I also looked at Microsoft’s Live services, but I don’t think I ever actually used the online storage for anything.
I wind up trying out all kinds of beta services and startup companies web sites. I’ve loved all the new Web2.0 design that’s been so big lately. To be honest, I can’t even begin to count all the services I’ve signed up for. I’m hoping that eventually the accounts that I’ve signed up for but no longer use will expire. I think what I really need to do is come up with a fake online identity and use that to sign up for all the accounts that I’m just trying, verses the accounts that I actually use on a daily basis. On the other hand, why should I even bother with shutting them down? Well, to answer that, I’ve got to go back to my opening sentence: I’m a geek. Being a geek also means that I really like to keep things organized, and if it’s not, it drives me nuts. I need to prune, or I can’t concentrate, it’s an open loop, and open loops need to be closed.