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Network World - The phrase "information overload" has been bandied about since it was first coined by Alvin Tofler in 1970 but the problem of too much information and not enough contextualization and filtering is now really starting to be a big issue. We have e-mail, blogs, microblogs, news feeds, … its hard to keep up with so much "stuff".
It's not just about the problem of being able to pigeonhole useful and interesting stuff but it's also about which stuff links to what other stuff. For example, in Google's Gmail or in Microsoft Outlook you can easily find all the messages that come from Bob but you can't easily relate those messages to news about his company, his blog, his newsfeeds, and so on. At least you couldn't until Gist.
Gist, which had its beta launch just about one year ago, interfaces with Microsoft Outlook, Google's Gmail, LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Salesforce, and SMTP/POP/IMAP-based mail services to aggregate, organize and prioritize e-mails, links, attachments, news sources, blogs, etc. In other words, Gist attempts to encompass all of the services that define the messaging and social universes of sophisticated Internet users.
The result is a dashboard of what Gist thinks is the most important news from all of the resources tracked along with listing your upcoming events, your e-mail attachments, your recent links, and your contact cloud. From this dashboard you can drill down into any of the tracked resources or switch tabs to a view based on people or companies.
The people and company views show your interactions with those entities as well as the commonalities you have with them (people and companies you both share, your correspondence, etc.).
It is important to note that all of the data and connections Gist displays are derived from your data alone, which the company states is never shared thus all relationships and commonalities are inferred from your data alone.
In other words what Gist has done is to expand, consolidate and condense the huge swirl of content that surrounds you into a mineable whole. In a very important sense Gist doesn't reduce information overload (it actually significantly inflates the stuff you need to be aware of) but rather makes it manageable.
If you're in sales or any other business where relationships and knowledge of a marketplace matters then Gist should make the job of knowing what's going on easier, more comprehensive, and more timely.
Gist is free and currently in a limited beta test but existing users can invite you to join. If you're interested in a Gist account, drop me a note at email@example.com.
Read more about software in Network World's Software section.