Pulling it all together

By Scott Westerman

Those of us who have been geeking for many years have built a portfolio of memberships that sometimes become unwieldy.

I have six instant messaging accounts: AOL, GoogleTalk, Yahoo, ICQ, MSN and Jabber. Same story on email. Gmail is my primary, but I get stuff through Comcast.net, Yahoo, MSN and my half dozen websites, all of whom have custom addresses associated with the domains.

Then there are the social networks. I jettisoned MySpace, but still visit Facebook, Twitter, Joost and Pownce. I monitor a ton of blogs, mostly in search of feedback about work, but check in regularly with my favorite thinkers, too.

If I had everything running at once, my desktop would be crammed with windows and the sound card would be spitting out dings and pings of every shape and size as each app updated.

So how to pull everything together under one roof? Here are some suggestions:

Digsby.com – Aggregates all your IM and email accounts and has hooks into Twitter, Facebook, et al. It can be a resource hog but seems to work well. It’s an application, not browser based and has versions for Windows, Mac and Linux.

Orgoo.com – Many of the same features as Digsby but is browser based. Still in beta and has some limitations on the email side.

Meebo.com – One of the first browser based IM aggregators. Also gives you chat room functionality and a widget so you can have folks IM you from your webpage. One of my current faves.

Google Reader – With RSS (Real Simple Syndication) feeds becoming the foundation of content distribution on the web, feed readers like this can make it easy to keep up with your favorite bloggers and any other content source that spits it’s info out via RSS. This one’s been around and through a couple of enhancements and works well. If you have a Gmail account, you’ve already got a Google reader account, too.

FriendFeed.com – Goes a step beyond, allowing you to aggregate and share your favorite content with ease. Some say that this elegant little application is “the next Twitter”. The jury is still out but features like topical discussion Rooms and the ease with which you can follow and be followed, it’s definitely something to watch.

Summize.com – The leading Twitter topic search out there at the moment. Plug your favorite search term in and you can get the most recent tweets that address it. For me, it’s turned out to be one of the best customer service tools around.

So here’s how my desktop looks at the moment. In a single Firefox window I have tabs for Gmail, Twitter, Summize and FriendFeed. I have a separate window for Meebo which is where all my IM’s come and go. I find myself checking Facebook less and less over the course of the day. A lot of that info gets to me more quickly on the Twitter network. The only application I run is Twhirl, which aggregates my two Twitter identities and is more easy to use than the web interface.

That’s how I’ve been pulling it all together. Any apps I’ve missed? Ping me @wscottw3 on Twitter. I’ll post updates here.


Via Twitter – @emilymcdonnell says: Another aggregation app – www.fuser.com. Add all email accounts – not just pop or imap, soc nets, and twitter.

Via FriendFeed – There are some good suggestions here for getting control of your online activities. I haven’t YET installed Digsby because I’m trying to stay away from apps so I think that I’ll just wait for Orgoo to “grow up”:-) – Thomas Ho
Digsby is the way to go, they’re a great team and I’ve been a long time user of Trillian Astra and as soon as I found this product, I uninstalled Trillian and moved all my account to Digsby because it supports not only IM networks but social networks. BTW, They only have a Windows client right now Mac and Linux are coming soon. – Aaron Myers