When I left college in 2004 I took with me 3 hard drives that had over a terabyte of movies, music, documents and more. All of the content I had created or saved was a file on one of those hard drives amongst thousands of disorganized folders. It took Google Desktop to ultimately deliver a search product strong enough to help me find anything I wanted amidst the horde of files.
Fast forward to today, where those hard drives with thousands of files sit dusty on my shelf. It's not because I've replaced them with files on my latest computer, it's because, for the most part, I no longer have use for files on a computer at all. Now thanks to my obsession with social media, and my aggressive transition to everything "cloud", all of my documents are scattered across thousands of websites. Microsoft Office and Outlook have been replaced by Google Docs and Gmail. My photos and videos sit on Flickr and YouTube. In fact, tens of thousands of pieces of content are scattered across way too many social sites and web applications- so much so that it's getting impossible to remember exactly where I put any single thing, let alone find it again.
Enter Memolane and Greplin, two products to save the social media and cloud computing obsessed. Memolane and Greplin share the noble purposes of helping you rediscover the content you have spread around the web, though each focus on a different subset of content and solve it in different ways:
- Memolane links up to all of your social networks (11 so far, and any RSS feed) and visualizes your activity in a really cool interactive timeline. It allows you to view all of your photos, status messages, location check-ins and more organized day-by-day. With Memolane you can do a basic search of your activity, but more impressively you can travel to any point in your social media history view a beautiful timeline and view what your experience was as told by your foursquare + Flickr + YouTube + Twitter + Facebook activity (and more) at that moment. Memolane uses all sorts of meta data to put the timeline together, and even successfully managed to import and accurately assign photo's I'd taken in 2002 and uploaded to Flickr years later.
- Greplin connects to the top few social networks, but focuses more on cloud computing sites like Gmail, Google Docs and Dropbox. You can't browse your documents visually, but you can instantly search across all of your sites to find anything you need. Greplin returns search results really fast and organizes them by message, event, people and file to help you find what you're looking for more easily. Greplin is a freemium service, meaning some of the accounts it links to come free, but others (like Google Business Apps and Evernote) are paid additions. Greplin isn't as sexy as Memolane, but it's incredibly powerful and useful as working in the cloud becomes more common.
While Memolane and Greplin tackle similar problems, they each focus on a different set of content and help you rediscover it in different ways. Since I am putting more and more content online each day, I expect to use both of these services often. Have you tried them yet? If so, what do you think? What features do you think they need to be more helpful, or what are other services that are helping you organize your cloud life?