Connect Better with Cloze

A few weeks ago, Jascha over at Mindjet suggested I give a web app a try that i hadn’t heard of before based on what I’d written about SaneBox over at Lifehack months ago. The app is called Cloze, and unlike SaneBox it is more permissive than dismissive. Cloze wants to help you build and foster relationships with those you interact with online, and does a great job with that, whereas I feel SaneBox is more about processing communication rather than progressing communication to a new, perhaps more “human” level.

When you sign up for Cloze, the web app analyzes the data you provide (such as email, Twitter, and Facebook credentials) and uses an algorithm of its own devising to calculate your overall Cloze score.1 Mine started at 42 with just the social networks added. Then it rose to 49 once I added Gmail. As of today, I’m at 51. The thing is, I don’t entirely know how the algorithm works, but I also don’t really care how deep that rabbit hole goes. You can, however, get a sense of what goes into the algorithm -- and that’s what is important -- not the number it generates.

You can monitor your key relationships in Cloze and interact directly via the web interface. Cloze tells you if you’ve missed any emails or updates from those you’re connected with (called “news”), and you can then begin to look at what is waiting for you. You can dismiss news (if you’ve already dealt with the message elsewhere or it falls into your deletion criteria), you can respond to news (respond to the email, “like” their Facebook update, etc.), and you can even do that per news item or per person. You can also categorize your connections as Personal, Coworkers, Customer, or Other if you want. (For the record, my Cloze relationship with my wife is the closest at 86. Go figure.)

But I want to discuss less about how to use Cloze and more about why I think you should give it a serious look.

Cloze is a means to not only interact with those who you are connected with, but it is a way to foster the relationships of those you are connected with – and make those connections deeper.

I’ve made no secret about two things: I use Postbox for email and I do not use (or believe anyone should use) an email app for task management.

I also don’t dive into email at the start of my day. Instead, I connect with and tackle the most important thing that I need to do to make the greatest amount of progress, the thing that will give me a true sense of accomplishment to begin the day with. Email comes next. But thanks to Cloze, I now have the ability to build better relationships using email and social networks when I start to work on email. That means I’m actually doing another thing that is every important to me – crucial, in fact.

I get to improve my relationships with others.

Email is widely regarded as something you have to get through, something you need to deal with immediately so that you can get on with dealing with other things on your to-do list. But Cloze puts this into a different light. The user interface is a pleasure to use, and best of all is that I no longer have to check out my Twitter and Facebook feeds along with email to keep my relationships growing. That means I’m focusing on the person behind the platforms, not the other way around. I am able to better respond to those who are important to me and not concern myself if something they’ve shared soars by on Twitter or gets buried on Facebook. I get everything in one place and I can interact with everything in one place (although I do wish the more personal services I use, Path and App.net, were supported by Cloze)…and that is the ideal for a productivityist like me.

Cloze is still in its infancy, but already it looks really promising. It is the second thing I check out every day and it is where I return to as the day draws to a close because it gives me the opportunity to foster relationships and connections while furthering my productivity as well. The mindful and thoughtful approach to communication and productivity is what makes Cloze so appealing – it’s an app that really brings back the human element to connecting with others online.

And that is as noteworthy as it is noble.

Cloze is still in beta. You can give it a try for yourself here.

1 There will be some folks who have concerns about privacy with Cloze having this data, that is understandable. But it’s no different than my email traveling through Google. I’m okay with this service having access. If you’re not, then this app – along with many others – won’t be for you.