Does own 43things?
February 9, 2005 1:07 PM   Subscribe

43 Amazon Things? Merlin Mann posted a link to a Salon article (registration required, watch an ad) that indicated that 43things is funded by Amazon. What does it mean? What would they do with people's 43 things?
posted by fixedgear (22 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Forget Amazon, what anyone would do with this 43things website is beyond me.
posted by scottq at 1:10 PM on February 9, 2005

What do you want to do with your life?

posted by The Card Cheat at 1:20 PM on February 9, 2005

I've never been to 43Things in my life...but statistics like "7,218 people are doing 29,729 things" just scream, no, murmur, "huh?"

My uninformed, first-glance opinion about why Amazon would/might fund this: it looks like a list of things people do that hypothetically others could do if they visited Amazon and bought something.

"7,218 people are doing 29,729 things and 4,784,631 things are for sale on Amazon...!"
posted by tpl1212 at 1:24 PM on February 9, 2005

FWIW, I actually think the Salon article is pretty over-the-top. I linked to it only because it had generated so much concern from confused people wondering what this had to do with my site. Since 43 Things launched, I’ve fielded a lot of inquiries about the notional relationship with 43 Folders, and today I guess I finally felt like I had to say something to try and clear things up.

I don’t have any ill will toward the very nice 43 Things people or their swell site. But, unfortunately, their choice for the site’s name has been a consistent headache generator for me.
posted by merlinmann at 1:30 PM on February 9, 2005

Merlin: I guess I could ask you this privately but how does David Allen feel about the name '43 folders?' Is it homage?
posted by fixedgear at 1:35 PM on February 9, 2005

So the idea of 43 things is that it shows you other people who want to do what you do? Like a support network or something? Am I getting it?
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 1:37 PM on February 9, 2005

taxonomies are the new trendy thing, aren't they? so maybe amazon is getting all ontological?
posted by andrew cooke at 1:38 PM on February 9, 2005

Fixedgear: It's definitely an homage to tickler files, and orthogonally to GTD. Tickler files were around a long time before GTD, but, yeah, that's where I first learned about them (and made one).

You'd have to ask him whether he likes the site; he is a PC user, after all. ;-)
posted by merlinmann at 1:40 PM on February 9, 2005

next they'll be using permalinks!
posted by quonsar at 1:44 PM on February 9, 2005

Yeah, so what exactly is so horrible here?
They're going to STEAL everyone's HOPES and DREAMS and then, it's too awful to contemplate,

they're going to try to sell them BOOKS.
posted by exceptinsects at 1:59 PM on February 9, 2005

Here's robot co-op's announcement.

Erik Benson, one of the robot co-op guys as well as the creator of All Consuming, works for Amazon, so it's not that big of a surprise. And it's just venture capital, nothing to get worked up about.

I do find it odd timing that two 43 ___ sites debuted so close to each other. (Not that I'm accusing either of copycatting or collusion, just interesting timing. Must've been wafting through the ether.)
posted by me3dia at 3:12 PM on February 9, 2005

Note to all speculators: is still available.
posted by felix at 3:28 PM on February 9, 2005

I'm pretty sure Flickr did the "expanding tag" thing first.

I actually liked the earlier version of twinkler/43things/whatever - the one that was basically lists. The new version with all the added context and "this is worth doing/not doing" stuff seems unnecessarily complicated.
posted by O9scar at 3:58 PM on February 9, 2005

I like to imagine (wrongly) that it's a one-up on the Answer to Life, the Universe, and Everything.
posted by NickDouglas at 5:11 PM on February 9, 2005

I do find it odd timing that two 43 ___ sites debuted so close to each other.

You mean the way that one site with a distinctive name came out, found popularity and developed a strong reputation, and then another site with a practically identical name debuted three months later? Yeah, I'd call that odd timing.
posted by jjg at 5:22 PM on February 9, 2005

I love that one of the 43 things featured on the main page is Build a personalized, automated news aggregator. And 13 people want to do it.

What a useless site.
posted by delmoi at 6:18 PM on February 9, 2005

43things is not getting the love here, is it?

I don't find anything unusual about the investment, especially given the obvious lineage back to Amazon in the first place. I trust that the Robot Co-op guys really are independent rather than some sort of stealth spin-off, and just managed to be very persuasive with their social capital. So far 43things hasn't tried to sell me a damn thing, other than via Google Ads, and I'm pretty sure that there are one or two other sites using those.

I do think it's brilliant in a pretty-object-on-a-doily sort of way, though it has yet to feel truly compelling. I have been using it to list some life goals (some grabbed from other people, but some my own), and there have been a few conversations sprung up as a result, but the overall anonymity of the site falls short of the obvious intent of creating a social network to peer-pressure you on your goals. As such it's just a write-em-down app in the GTD mode. So I wrote my goals down, and I visit them occasionally; most of them are out of immediate reach, which may be a mistake on my part. Maybe I'll fill up my remaining half-dozen thing slots with more short-term goals so I can get an accomplishment jones.

It is kinda fun to see the random goals thrown at you with every new page load. It gets old exploring them, though.

The whole "43" business is pretty dumb. The number is entirely arbitrary -- there's no reason it has to be 43, but I see the branding value of making it an offbeat number. Why it can't be an, um, more unique number ....
posted by dhartung at 6:19 PM on February 9, 2005

also, which was first *olders or *hings?
posted by delmoi at 6:19 PM on February 9, 2005

oddly, my domain name (currently offline) is I've had it for years... both of them are ripping me off!

(and Actualy, my number wasn't based on HHGTG, I didn't even notice the coincidence untill later, I just liked the sound of the number when spoken)
posted by delmoi at 6:21 PM on February 9, 2005

what anyone would do with this 43things website is beyond me.

Some people are list junkies... getting things done is crack to those who substitute lists of goals for meaning in life. You can never get enough of it. And in return you get a thousand new marketing ideas. It's brilliantly evil. First product: a 12 step program for getting off GTD.
I like to imagine (wrongly) that it's a one-up on the Answer to Life, the Universe, and Everything.
No you're right. That's exactly what it is.
posted by missbossy at 6:59 PM on February 9, 2005

also, which was first *olders or *hings?

Both Jesse and I were a tad oblique, apparently.

> Domain Name: 43FOLDERS.COM
Created on: 31-Aug-04

> domain: 43THINGS.COM
created: 06-Apr-2004

Technically, 43things came up with their name first, it seems. jjg implies that 43things, which only launched in December, was stealing Merlin's good name after several months building a brand. The evidence shows they got the name a lot earlier, though. Here's their comment after the name announcement.

What I was saying was that 43 was a very arbitrary number of goals to have, in this context. Why 43? Why not 57, or 72, or 17? There's no apparent reason for the choice of "43things".

Merlin's site builds on the idea of a 43-manila-folder tickler file, which those ancients of us remember using: 31 for each day of a month, 12 for each succeeding future month. You physically rotate the contents daily, so nothing is forgotten. As a lightweight organizational system, it's hard to beat, as long as you actually use it. It remains common in legal offices. "43folders", then, is not arbitrary, but recalling an essential attribute. Indeed, some of his users are using, or even taking up, such tickler files.

missbossy (and the rest of you): I really don't know what the snark's about. Some of us don't come by these organizational skills naturally. I don't imagine that GTD or 43things or 43folders or anything else is the magic bullet that will fix my (so far wildly mismanaged) life, but I think having tools such as these just might improve my odds. Believe me, I've met people who've drunk the Franklin-Covey Kool-Aid.

I do know that if I ever develop a halfway cool web application, I'm probably going to make some httpd modifications to reject referrers from MeFi. These days, it's like ThirdVoice, with complete sentences.
posted by dhartung at 9:44 PM on February 9, 2005

jjg implies that 43things, which only launched in December, was stealing Merlin's good name after several months building a brand. The evidence shows they got the name a lot earlier, though.

Registered earlier, but not made public until long after the other site was well-established. This namespace collision was Robot Co-op's to avoid. That they couldn't be bothered to do so -- especially, as you point out, given that the number 43 is utterly arbitrary to the purpose of their site -- tells me everything I need to know about them.

I look forward to their upcoming projects "Slashingdot", "Yayhoo", and "Gotmail".
posted by jjg at 10:43 PM on February 9, 2005

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