Empowering the Squiggles

Xtrant, it's for a squiggle person, or a straight line person.There are two kinds of folks in this world, the straight lines and the squiggles.

Straight lines are those organized, by the book, solid citizens who are easily detectable by their uncluttered desks and penchant for lists.  And folders in filing cabinets, plus folders on their desktop and carefully cataloged and categorized email clients.  All those to-do type programs and methods are just MADE for them.  But they don’t even need those tools…they’d be organized straight-lines if all they had was a chisel and a stone tablet.

Lists are big with straight line people – and I totally respect that – and there are lots of tools out there that help those folks keep their lists.  But those tools aren’t for me, cause I’m the other kind.

I’m a “squiggle.”

Squiggles are the sideways thinkers, the quick starts, the ADD addled masses who are usually being forced to walk that straight and narrow at work (and forcing themselves to fake it.)  Growing up they felt guilty for not being as organized as those few alien-robot kids who had it all together.   So they read a book about productivity, and give those tools a try, find them useful (for about a week) and then drop them as they regress into their old scattered or makeshift ways. Or else they rebel when “management” forces them to learn a new way of working “for their own good.”

They shouldn’t feel guilty, they are just being what they are – human. Humans in need of a flexible tool that allows the straight lines and the squiggly people to communicate and be productive together.

Think of Xtrant as a BabelFish for squiggles and straight lines. But it’s not only a communication tool, it helps all kinds of folks organize their thoughts and tap into their inspiration.

I come up with a lot of ideas all at once, and I usually forget everything but the LAST idea I came up with. And all of those other ideas in that instant brainstorm can get lost, because my mind is going that fast. Now when I have a burst of inspiration I pull up Xtrant, and write those ideas down in the context of the project I’m thinking of.  It’s about keeping all of your information contextually in one place. It’s useful, and powerful. And it’s powerful because it’s intuitive – natural.

Humans are a distractible bunch – our brains all want to get fed new information, constantly – that’s why these asynchronous, distraction-sharing thought-burst machines like Facebook and Twitter are so popular.

Xtrant incorporates the way people are used to interacting online, for both Straight Lines and Squiggles – but instead of a perpetual party in the cloud, Xtrant is a perpetual meeting in the cloud.

Instead of “social sharing,” we use the same protocols to create an environment of productive sharing – so you can use Xtrant to organize multiple stakeholders around any initiative; like buying a house, or planning a party, or writing a contract, or developing an ad campaign, or sharing and comparing scientific data models over time (we actually have people doing that on Xtrant right now, and it’s already being used by students for study groups, development shops, PR and social media consultants, architects, production companies, lawyers, even a church choir, a writing group and a golf course.)

We aren’t project management and we aren’t an internal social media platform or even just a file sharing system. We’ve designed Xtrant to hit the sweet spot between project management, client communication, social engagement and collaboration – all in a clean interface that’s easy to understand and adopt, whether you’re a squiggle or a straight line.


Google Wave Withdrawal? Cure it with Xtrant.

When Google Wave was announced back in 2009, I will admit, we were kind of worried. Here we were translating our founding application (The Sposto Interactive Extranet – launched back in 2004) into what is now Xtrant, our goal to give the world the power of productive sharing that helped make our small firm compete on a large stage.

Then suddenly the all powerful Google announced Google Wave – and declared a similar mission – including that of being an “email killer.”  Dammit, that’s what we wanted to be – and actually are.  (In fact, one of our most active customers REQUIRES all of their clients to communicate to them only via Xtrant.  No emails allowed.  They have started over 200 projects in our system since our soft launch in November – and they aren’t the only ones killing their email with Xtrant.)

Back to Google Wave – we honestly didn’t shed many tears at it’s demise – though we hoped WE would be the ones to get it right – strike the right balance between project management, client communication, social engagement and collaboration.

From what we’re hearing from our customers, we have struck that balance – and one comment we’re repeatedly getting is “Wow, Xtrant is like Google Wave, only it’s easy to use and understand.”

Screen Shot 2013-01-24 at 8.03.25 PM

Clear and easy to follow.


A little confusing.

How is it similar?  Think of each Xtrant project as the equivalent of a WAVE…add the people you are working with, and keep all of your interactions and communications and  assets you are sharing, etc, in one place.  As that project grows – everything shared and discussed turns into a running log of your progress – a reference point for that topic.  The power of context keeps everyone, literally, on the same page.

So don’t despair – come and surf the Xtrant wave!

Steal Time Back From Social Media with “Productive Sharing”

researchHow much do time do you spend on social media?  How many hours a week does Facebook take from you?  How often do you pause to tweet, to post a photo, even to send a group text?

Yes, you enjoy it.

Yes, there is networking to be done.

Yes, Twitter is part of the fabric of your life…we all get it.

But as those hours get sucked away there are things that need to get done, things you are putting off: It could be that novel you are writing, right? Or that report that’s due on Friday. Or this blog post – the one you are reading now – the one that I put off a few times, and you’ve found thanks to social media (don’t feel guilty, this counts as research.)  Social media – or “Social Sharing” is addictive because it’s so useful – so easy to adopt.  But like any opiate, it steals from our personal productivity, and in the aggregate it steals from humanity’s productivity as well – deep down you know the millions of hours spent on FarmVille could be used to cure the disease of your choice.

Okay, you can argue that most of the folks who sit and while away the hours on social media wouldn’t be doing much anyway, and it’s better to keep some of them occupied instead of stirring up trouble – but that’s another essay. 

Let’s be idealists here – and cite an artificial statistic (I know, damn lies and all.) “When Twitter goes down, worker productivity skyrockets 50%.”

You’ve likely seen this man’s claims that he hired a girl to slap him every time he checked Facebook and quadrupled his productivity. (I think he may have mommy issues, but it’s fun to watch him get slapped.)

That’s cute and all, and makes the point, but his methods are not practical for most of us.  But there’s no need to completely abandon social media – this efficient way to share and communicate.  Let’s use social sharing to be more productive.

Let’s start practicing “Productive Sharing.”

At Xtrant we’re harnessing social media protocols in a positive way – creating an environment that makes productivity and efficiency addictive.  The casual immediacy of social media is combined with the power of contextual communication and business-friendly security to help get things done.  We’ve got a billion people on the planet used to working this way – so let’s use those skills to get more productive.

So, go ahead and check your Facebook at work…right after you’ve checked your Xtrant.

Simple Technology for a Busy Time

Like most start-ups in early launch phase, Xtrant is busy.  And also, like most start-ups, our communication strategy includes a blog.  Of course, we used WordPress to create our blog.  It was easy to implement in a short time, and it is easy to manage, so we can spend more time managing and improving Xtrant, rolling out new features, dealing with upcoming events, and growing marketing and communication channels.  (Including writing this, our first blog post.)  We didn’t even spend too much time customizing the template: No need, it’s doing its job, as you are here reading this.

Good, solid, simple tools that are easy to adopt and implement for their purpose win, especially when you want to spend time actually getting things done.

Pitch Deck Page

Using Xtrant to promote Xtrant and communicate with others about Xtrant.

As a company Xtrant takes advantage of the tools at our disposal.  We use UserVoice for our support site/help desk, we are experimenting with MailChimp to send out newsletters and information to our subscriber base.  And we use our very own Xtrant to communicate to our vendors, keep track of our internal projects, even to communicate to potential investors.  We call it “eating our own tail” (like the mythical Ouroboros.) And by using it every day we notice what works, and what can be improved.  We are in the shoes of our customers.

Stay away from solutions that require too many thought processes.  The most powerful tool is always the one you will use.

What powerful and simple tools do you use?