Rethinking The Box

As I have been thinking more and more about the reorganization of my digital life (moving from digital to paper for some tasks for instance) I have also been thinking more about where my organizational data lives, how I currently access it and where things are headed in the future.
For instance, Google, with their Gmail product, is attempting to redefine how we access our e-mail, how we store it and where we store it. The idea being that we should have virtually limitless e-mail storage, on a centralized server, available from anywhere, able to be accessed through any browser or client, with threaded or context based views of topics and that we should not have to file it into folders because it is able to be searched by sender, subject and content so therefore retrieved very quickly. This idea has been a compelling one to me from the outset and, now that they allow POP access, I have considered using it even more for my personal e-mail (Especially since I have 5 or 6 e-mail addresses and I eventually would like to pair them down some).
Side note: I have been swearing for years that I will one day just have two e-mail addresses, one for work and one for personal stuff but have just not been able to bring myself to do it. This would help me so much in being able to handle the sorting, filing and responding to of mail. Making my personal one a Gmail account would be a good solution but I just can’t bring myself to do it.
This has me starting to wonder how many other items will eventually move in this direction. A few of weeks ago I mentioned Ta-da List, a free web based list manager. You can create lists (To Do, Shopping, Books to Read, etc.), share them with others, e-mail them and subscribe to them via RSS. I also mentioned that the company that makes it, 37 Signals, also has a brilliant and robust project manager called Basecamp that offers even more features and functionality. The focus of these, like Gmail, is clearly the idea of having access to such data via the web from practically anywhere, anytime and the ability to access it via a iety of methods and share it with others.
Word on the street is that 37 Signal’s next product, called Backpack, will be a calendar and/or contact manager based on these same ideas. All that is needed here is the use of open standards that can tie them into already existing client products (Apple’s iCal or MS Outlook for instance) and I have a pretty compelling reason to move away from my current solution there as well.
More and more I see this as further steps toward the idea that our data will, one day, be able to be accessed everywhere at any time. Open standards will allow us to access it via web based or client based solutions. The choice of how and where we work with our data will be ours. This idea that our data only lives on the little box under our desk will be a thing of the past.