Welcome to The Weekly Web 2.0, a featurette I'm posting each week on Govtech.com. I'm scouring the Web to bring you two interesting 2.0 tools that I hope you'll find worth checking out. Some finds may serve you professionally while others may be better for personal business. And a few will do both. This week I explore NutshellMail and BoxCycle.
As most of you are aware, one of the themes of 2008 has been consolidation. Across the public sector, CIOs are hard at work bringing everything under one roof -- well, two roofs for disaster recovery purposes, right? Anyway, one area you may have overlooked in your consolidation efforts is your ever-growing horde of e-mail accounts and social networking sites. That's where NutshellMail comes in.
NutshellMail bills itself as a one-stop shop for all your e-mail and social networking needs. The service, like any good Web 2.0 app, is free. Users set up their primary e-mail account as the hub of their online universe. For example, for personal e-mail I use Yahoo and Gmail, while at work I use Outlook. NutshellMail allows me to receive all my personal e-mail in Outlook. But wait! What about your agency's e-mail policies? NutshellMail promises it can adhere to most policies because it routes your personal e-mail through your agency's e-mail servers, allowing all those personal communications to conform to workplace rules.
Meanwhile, as you toil away at your computer, you may wonder what's going on at Facebook, LinkedIn, Flickr or any of your other social networks. In addition to e-mail consolidation, NutshellMail offers users a place to easily access all social networking sites in one place without the need to log in multiple times.
One other spiffy feature NutshellMail offers may appeal to those of you who are parents. The service allows you to include your child's e-mail among the accounts you want consolidated. This way, if you wish, you can monitor those communications as well as your own.
BoxCycle may not be of much use to you professionally -- unless you're starting a new job or getting fired. But it does take a traditionally irritating task and moves it into cyber-space. With BoxCycle, the days of slumming it behind department stores for moving boxes are over, as are the days of buying new moving boxes.
BoxCycle is sort of like Craigslist, only it is set exclusively in the exciting world of boxes. When you set up an account at BoxCycle, you can either list boxes you no longer need or browse a huge selection of boxes for those you'd like to acquire. Users can sell or give away boxes, and those who are interested in procuring boxes can use the site to find them locally.
It may sound silly, but BoxCycle provides a useful and eco-friendly service. For example, I have dozens of empty, perfectly good boxes sitting at my desk. While they certainly make me look like a productive employee, in reality they only take up space and are fated for a trip to the cardboard-recycling Dumpster. People always need to move things, and these things often require a box. And if you're like me, the boxes you have at home are already filled with junk you don't need but can't get rid of. So if you're looking to buy or sell any boxes and want to be a good steward of the environment, give BoxCycle a try. It's free to use; the site makes money like eBay by taking a small commission from each box sale.
Chad Vander Veen previously served as the editor of FutureStructure, and the associate editor of Government Technology and Public CIO magazines.