One Interface to Rule them All (part 3)
July 11, 2008 16 Comments
First, I’d like to thank all those readers who have left comments and given input on my prior posts (part 1 and part 2). We’re all wrestling with the problem of having application-overload, and while none of us has “the” answer, all of us together might be able to craft something that gets us closer.
After reading some of the comments, I’m wondering if I shouldn’t have called this series “One Dashboard to Rule them All”; as what we’re really talking about, I think, is a functional master dashboard. Some might misunderstand that I’m implying an approach of imposing a certain interface scheme on app developers. I’m not – I just want a tool that will display, talk to, and intelligently query all those sites and apps through APIs and what have you.
Also, referring back to the part 2 post, I should clarify that if a user selects one of the five main functions (say, View), then the viewport floods with the user-specified content related to Viewing, while the other functional areas wait in the background to be selected, perhaps via tabs, as the drawing implies. However, it might also be cool to select a continuously running horizontal or vertical “Converse” ticker so the IM/Twitter/etc. conversations are displayed in real-time.
Be that as it may, here’s the next installment. This ideal dashboard/interface would enable us to consolidate a number of me-centric functions in one up-front area (we’ll call it the MeeOMy bar – I know, dumb name, but we’re just doing rough design here!) that will then update and interact with various websites and apps. Here’s a graphic of the concept:
Using this tool, we can put our current status or location in one place, and this could be used to feed other “presence” apps such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, blogs, etc. And wouldn’t it be sweet to have one MASTER place into which, and from which, to import/export ALL of our contact info (and to have that contact database also be resident on the local computer).
The next couple of functions get into the heart and soul of why this dashboard/interface is something well above the realm of just another set of favorites on a browser, or widgets on an iGoogle/MyYahoo/Netvibes/Pageflakes page.
This app would have user-configured smart bots (let’s call them, for the time being, Intell-Agents) that would go out to the web and FIND what I’m looking for. Right now, we have to do a lot of SEARCHing. And the volume of people, information, and things on the web is exploding, which means that sorting through everything out there is a monumental task. I think that the next big thing is automated engines that will help us find what we specify.
So, for instance, I want to purchase a Bose Wave Radio, for under $125.00, and I want MetaMee to look at all auction sites, discount sites, and other shopping sites, until it finds available listings fitting my specifications. Only then does it return results – maybe days later. Intell-Agents actively go out and look for/find what we need, while we work, sleep, and go about our other activities. Extrapolate that out beyond just a purchase into the many other realms in which we search, and you’ll see how powerful this is.
The other realm of “Intell-Agents” that I’d love to see is smart Recommendations. Let’s say you subscribe to a number of people on various sites like Twitter, Plurk, FriendFeed, etc. – and you subscribe via RSS to any number of blogs with various themes. MetaMee would, via intelligent mapping of people/blogs “like mine,” make ongoing recommendations of “similars” – including people, info streams, products, etc. Think of how Amazon and other sites make recommendations, and then expand the concept to all the various areas where we’d like to find “similars.”
Search? That function is a subset of all the other functions. When I’m in “Converse” mode, I might like to Search among individual people in single or multiple platforms. When in View mode, Search is essentially Googling. In Buy/Sell mode, I’m searching across whatever multiple e-commerce sites I specify; or, if I’m using MetaMee to launch one particular site through a link or a widget, then I’m using that site’s search function for its own content.
Out of the gate, there’d be some work getting cooperation among some sites. But if there was enough demand, individual platforms would need to collaborate with the MetaMee platform or get left out.
On this front, you’ll see that I’m painting with broad strokes, because I’m speaking as an idealistic and pragmatic user, not a developer/programmer. There’s some seriously hard work under the hood here. But if these capabilities were available, even in alpha and only a subset of functions active, I’d be jumping all over it. How about you?
UPDATE – I guess somewhere in the “my” category should be a centralized way to track comments, ratings, reviews, and/or recommendations that I’ve placed elsewhere. Haven’t really thought it through…what do you think?
Next post: Data Flow: the MeeVault, Settings, and interactions with the “cloud”.
Links to the entire One Interface to Rule them All series:
Related post: Share Media vs. Tell Media