Blank-of-the-year game: Great online discovery of 2009

I'm late getting on board Gwen Bell's backwards-for-forwards Best of 2009 Blog Challenge, but as La Bell herself sez, you can jump on that bus anytime you want. And turn it into a train, plane, or bicycle ride, as you like: if you are blog-free, you can tweet your thoughts, slip them into someone else's comment stream, scribble them into a notebook, etc. The juicy goodness is in the excavation. Join us!

I love Evernote and will doubtless do a screencast about it in 2010.

Instapaper rocks my online/offline world, too, thanks to its iPhone app cousin.

And Netflix, glorious streamer of an astoundingly deep back catalog that keeps me cable-free, fat and happy, is definitely up in the top 10. Five. Okay, three: I like watching old video more than I like reading anything on my tiny iPhone screen. (What the hell will I do when there are no more book-books?)

But if there was one application I'd fight to keep, it would be Skype. I'd first futzed with it back in 2006, collaborating on design projects with my delightful German friend, Michael (and several times, our Orange County-based clients, who might as well have been in Russia, for as conveniently located to me as is the OC). Multiple dropped calls and accompanying frustration made me dump it: when Michael and I did talk, we'd use Jajah, or he'd call me with some mystical magical cheap-to-free resource-of-the-moment he found (he's handy, is young Michael. And good. You should totally hire him, if you can.)

Today, with the addition of a Skype-in number (so clients can call me) and Call Recorder (so I can record our conversations and send them through yet another online application), I am loving Skype once again and more than ever. It's cheap, the quality is far, far better than it was when I first tried it and, using the iPhone Skype app, I can call from anywhere there's a wifi connection. (Since getting my iMac, then MacBook Pro, I can use the video function as well, but I'm lukewarm on video chat, as I find it more draining than a regular call, already draining enough as it is.)

More than anything, I love the way new tools show me new ways to look at things, and to modify my work habits:

  • I don't need Evernote, but using it has become a reminder that I experience less stress during certain points of travel or project creation if I have all my crap gathered in one place
  • I don't need Instapaper**, but now that I have it, I have begun to notice how my attention gets pulled away from stuff, and have begun taking other steps to correct it beyond offloading content.
  • I don't need Netflix, but having it available has let me ease up on hoarding: with an infinite (for my purposes) variety of great stuff to entertain me when I need it, I don't need to be the custodian of all of these DVDs. That, in turn has helped me get down with flow and impermanence, the key drivers of the abundance outlook.

Next, what I need are apps that teach me how to write short, move more and yes, walk away from the computer entirely.

Engineers? How about it?


**Read It Later is fine, too, and has a nice Firefox extension and iPhone app; I just found Instapaper first. Main thing? If I find myself spending too much time reading something while I'm supposed to be doing something else, I bookmark it for later consumption. In that way, my "Best Online Thingamabobby" is much like my fave Internet startup: what I love most of all is learning a new way to work more efficiently, just like what I love most about Gwen's challenge is that it makes me stop and think about the "why" behind things.

Image by A Geek Mom via Flickr, used under a Creative Commons license.