FIRCLE: software for managing the family
By Mike Hanlon
January 24, 2006
January 25, 2006 Any business school will tell you that “failing to plan” equates to “planning to fail.” We wholeheartedly accept this in business and our understanding of the science of business has come further in the last three decades than it did in the previous three millennia thanks to the computer’s myriad gifts being multiplied by the global network; the ability to collaborate, access and share information and to measure, analyse and improve systems. So why don’t we use computers to measure and improve our family lives? We’ve previously written about personal life-coaching software named Life Balance and EasyChild’s behaviour modification software system designed to monitor, assess and encourage children to succeed in life. Now there’s a new system which incorporates some of both of these products and much more for computerising and managing the family – it’s called Fircle and it’s an internet-based system containing a shared family calendar, children’s allowance and chore management, family rules (set your own and set penalties for transgressions), a family address book, personal journals, family voting on topics of your choice, ToDo lists and so much more. So much in fact, that it scared us …
To be truthful, when we first looked at FIRCLE, we thought it was going to be very special. By the time we’d finished trawling through the features, we were a bit scared that it was perhaps so comprehensive that it would require so much effort to get it operating that we’d run out of discretionary time altogether, and that it would be overwhelming and take over our lives.
Perhaps the current serendipitous bumbling along was preferable to an oppressive, computer-managed regime – maybe there’s a better way, but reengineering every aspect of your entire life to fit around a software package’s idea of structure isn’t it.
There’s one more factor that we think will mean the difference between life and death for this enterprise. We’re always happy to look past the aesthetic shortcomings of a product to see if it has underlying merit but we suspect that the vast majority of Fircle’s potential users won’t.
Indeed, as research shows, reliable decisions can be made about the quality of a web site in as little as 1/20th of a second and to be truthful, the Fircle site looks like it has been created as a school project – hardly the type of production values you’d wish from a company asking you to entrust them with the management of your family.
Good ideas come in many shapes and forms, and this remains a good idea … a very poorly executed good idea!
The opportunity remains for someone to research and develop software that’ll do what Fircle probably can’t – do a better job of managing your family than good old serendipitous bumbling.
Hey … maybe we could just talk more often?