Xobni is a fabulous little tool that works with Microsoft Outlook. In fact, I’d phrase it differently. Xobni is a fabulous little tool that makes Microsoft Outlook work. You know that useless search that churns and churns and doesn’t turn up anything remotely useful in the first fifteen minutes? Xobni takes care of that. Say you need to find the document your boss sent you last Tuesday (or one of the six or seven documents your boss sent you last Tuesday). There’s a little list right there in a pane on your inbox that has everything you need — just click any email from your boss, any one at all, and you see a list of all the attachments you and s/he have ever exchanged. Plus a list of all the email communications you two have had. Plus a list of all the people that are associated with your boss, i.e. copied on emails that you two have sent or received together. It’s incredible.
If for some reason you do need to search, Xobni’s got your back with a search that actually works. Inside Outlook. It finds stuff and it finds it fast. Xobni’s people-centered focus and ability to make your life easier by organizing information you already have (people you know, conversations you have had with them) but can’t use in its present form (scattered throughout your email archives) marks it as among the first of a new generation of social software. (See NMC‘s 2008 Horizon Report for more on the social-software angle.)
My fear, of course, is that the company will get bought, the developers won’t move to Seattle, and Xobni will languish in dusty neglect. My hope, on the other hand, is that Xobni will continue to be developed — with or without Microsoft, either way works for me — and continue to be a model for new tools that organize the stuff we do based on the people we know, rather than on file structures that make more sense to our computers than to us.
Here’s hoping that maybe sometimes the good live long enough to pave the way for something even better.