This is not a trick question. What’s more valuable, Intel’s top of the line processor, or your brain?
Why then, has there been billions of dollars of investment spent creating software to get better utilization out of a Core i7, while your brain is left to fend for itself?
I’m talking about the operating system:
Noun — op·er·at·ing sys·tem
The software that supports a computer’s basic functions, such as scheduling tasks, executing applications, and controlling peripherals.
Sounds nice, doesn’t it? I’m talking about software meant to keep an eye out for incoming demands, have a clear understanding of priorities, hand us just the information we require to do a job as we need it, leave us alone to finish in peace, and then take these outputs and format them in a way that the rest of the world can get the most value, all without us having to worry about it?
We humans, we need one of those. We deserve our own operating system.
A funny thing has happened over the past few decades. Tools to create more outputs and broadcast them further have multiplied. A tweet can reach millions of people on the other side of the planet. A pic on Facebook to 500 friends. An email requesting info to any of your 1,000 person address book in just a few keystrokes. The average knowledge worker now gets over 100 emails per day, each a little request for their time and attention. We are awash in digital demands.
Over that same period of time, the number of hours per day has stayed, mmmm, the same. And while Red Bull was a triumphant advance, the fix is short lived. There exists a profound imbalance of supply and demand. Supply, your minutes. Demand, each bit of binary data that wants your attention.
It’s taking its toll on all of us, and our team at Handle has devoted ourselves to giving us humans the right tool to reclaim control. We are building an operating system for your life.
Of course, operating systems are big, so we had to start somewhere.
Our launch product is a priority engine aimed at the most effective people on the planet. If you are clear on your priorities, you spend the bulk of your day on them and go home each night having made progress on the real needle movers.
It feels good. Click here for more.
But we’re just getting started. The human operating system we envision will do amazing things to make life easier.
Multiple Inboxes – any information flow that may have a new request you care about needs to be considered and prioritized against the availability of seconds over the course of your future life. Voicemail, texts, Twitter DMs, personal email…it’s all coming to you, and you only have one brain and one calendar. If it’s not all in the same place, bad decisions will be made and stress will ensue.
Artificial Intelligence – mining an inbox and a social graph give a lot of high quality information. Email response time alone means the world. My wife gets a very high SLA. Inbound information should be automatically fed in, with these implicitly derived priorities considered. Simple things, like past behavior of filing emails from a certain person in a certain folder, should be a confirmation rather than a requirement of repetitive expression.
Context – fix leaky faucet at home does me no good when I’m at work. But “calls” I need to make to Mike and Marge make a lot of sense while I’m driving. Context awareness will dramatically increase the signal/noise ratio we see so that the information we are presented with can be acted upon, given the resources we have available at that time.
Service automation – when I first joined the board of Siri, I’d email Dag Kittlaus every time I had a web need and was forced to Google instead of Siri. “Pay PG&E bill $100”, “Add Decisive to my Amazon wishlist”. Every Internet service with an API should be a few keystrokes away from doing what you want with it.
Structured Collaboration – a newsletter from your school comes with news and 3 action items embedded. What are they? Which have you done? Which did your wife do? This structure is lost in email and we rely on the painstaking process of cognitive attention parsing prose and coordinating with others to figure out what needs our additional cycles. We can do better.
Advanced Visualizations – think minority report, walk up to the screen, ask, “what should I do next?”, get a great answer with all the info you need to be productive immediately.
Seamless delegation – I was chatting with another dad, a doctor from Palo Alto Medical Foundation, at our kids’ soccer game who had just spent 2 hours booking his own flights. Not a good use of his time. In the distributed world we envision, any time a piece of work can be done at similar quality, at a lower wage rate than your own, it will be a matter of 1-click delegation to get the work initiated. Think TaskRabbit on steroids.
APIs - to address a broad market, it’s critical that additional functionality can be built on top of an operating system by a broad base of developers. The iPhone became a lot more valuable when the AppStore launched. Enhanced visualizations of the core data, custom workflows, richer communications and interoperability within existing systems are all areas that would make a human operating system more useful.
Soon, we’ll look back and laugh at sticky notes, emails to self, mark as unread, paper lists, txt files and everything else we use to piece together the makeshift system we use to keep our current lives on track. Get started now at handle.com and help shape the future.
Noun — op·er·at·ing sys·tem, for humans.
Software that works in tandem with your mind to support basic functions, such as capturing ideas, triaging inbound information, automating Internet interactions, optimizing the sequencing of tasks, and facilitating focused execution equipped with the right information at the right time, in the right context, to maximize effectiveness in alignment with goals.