Concerning Remembary
Nov 03, 2010 21:19

I'm proud to announce Shindig's first iOS app: Remembary, the Connected Diary for Your iPad.

I'll be writing more technical details about building the app, and the equally new and challenging job of promoting Shindig's first consumer product. For now, here's a blog post cross-posted to the blog. I've enabled sharing and comments on that blog, so if you want to share this or comment on it, you can do so there.)

The iPad is a new kind of device. While computers have been "personal" since the 1970s, the iPad is perhaps the first "private" computer - maybe even the first "intimate" computer. Smartphones and devices like the iPod Touch are also personal, but their small screens, always-on networking and portability make them more about connections and quick bursts of activity. While smartphones encourage quick hits, the iPad encourages longer-form, even contemplative activities. It is one of the first computer devices that encourages users to slow down rather than speed up. Regular computers require leaning forward. People watch TV while leaning back. The iPad encourages you to lean back - but to bring the device with you.


There are few things more private and intimate than a diary. As soon as I heard about the iPad, I thought it would make a great device for a diary. I've kept a personal journal since late 2003, and have built up a nice bookshelf of handsome hardcover volumes filled with my messy handwriting. When I'm in a reflective mood, I'll often pull them out and see what my life was like in the past. Sometimes I'll pick a specific date and see what I did on that day every year. Sometimes I'll just open a volume up at random and be transported back to an unexpected, perhaps forgotten, context of friends and activities.

When the iPad was announced, I immediately thought that it would be a great device for a diary. It's not only great for entering data, but also excellent for browsing the past entries. Now, along with all of my music and pictures and books, the iPad can hold all of my diaries - I can access my own past without having to carry around a whole lot of heavy books.

But the iPad has another edge on physical, handwritten books: it's connected to the internet, and it knows how to handle dates and times. Like many people, more and more of my life happens on-line - not just my work, but my social world and my public-facing thoughts through Twitter and Facebook and my various blogs. These services reflect different aspects of one's life, but they tend to focus on the present moment, as a flow of data in the continuously-moving Now - as anyone can tell who has tried to dig up a tweet from more than a few days ago.

Remembary Screenshot

Many interesting products are a combination of several existing things in a new way that makes them more than the sum of their parts. Remembary is a personal journal and an RSS / Twitter reader. Both of these things are easy to understand (and relatively easy to build) but work together to make something remarkably useful.

One of my biggest problems with keeping a written diary was that my life would often get very busy and I wouldn't have time to write, or I'd go on a trip and forget my diary at home. Then I would have several days (or even weeks) of empty pages to fill in. Some days I have trouble remembering exactly what happened this morning, so trying to recall what I did last Tuesday can be extremely difficult. Missing days in a diary often feels like those days are missing out of my life.

Remembary really helps on this front: a diary page may be blank, but in the top right corner are two little buttons that, when tapped, bring up my Twitter and RSS activity for that day - quick jogs to my memory to help fill in my day and keep it from vanishing into the past.

The second most important thing about Remembary is its quick search. I made sure that it searched not only the text of the diary entries, the tweets and RSS feed items, but also the text of the dates for the diary entries. For example, I can type "December 11" and instantly see what I've done for my birthday every year.

When Steve Jobs wrapped up the announcement of the iPad with the comment that Apple had always been at the intersection of Technology and the Liberal Arts, I felt like he was talking to me. I've spent fifteen years as a software developer and technologist, but I have two degrees in English Literature - one from Oberlin "We Put The Liberal In The Liberal Arts" College. Remembary is my little lemonade stand at that intersection. I've got a little sign saying "$2.99 - Cheap!" Consider picking it up for yourself.

Momento and Remembary
Dec 03, 2010 10:45