One Interface to Rule them All (part 4)

What we’re thinking about together in this series of posts is an “ideal” interface (or portal/dashboard) that will allow for a more efficient and personalized web experience. There are many very cool applications and functions scattered all over the internet – however, this fragmentation brings with it a lot of frustration. Is is possible to make a very cool application (code name: MetaMee) that will simplify our lives? That’s what we’re exploring.

If you’re just arriving for the first time, I’d strongly suggest a quick read of part 1, part 2, and part 3 for context and backstory so that this one will make more sense.

We’ve looked at the very basics of the 5 main functions that would go into the dashboard/interface, and some of the me-centric personalization capabilities that would make on-line life simpler. Now let’s step back and look at data flow, and for that, we’ll need one of my classic ugly Powerpoint drawings:

OK, let’s look at these items one at a time and see how it works together.

The MeeStream (Out) is all my “stuff” that I’m putting out to the web. MetaMee would allow me to auto-login to all my data stores, and through the MetaMee interface and/or widgets from the various sites, more easily determine what gets published where, when, and how. All my ShareMedia (Share Meedia…?) gets funneled through this dashboard, making it easier also to track the stuff. People can then subscribe to Mee, or to whatever aspects of my stream interest them.

The MeeStream (In) is my subscription list. I’m subscribing to people, to information, to news, to videos, to e-commerce deals…to whatever is out there that interests me. Maybe I like Tangerine Toad‘s blog, and I subscribe; but as time goes on, I want to see everything that the Toad (Alan Wolk) puts out there – Tweets, photos, what have you. Click – done.

My Intell-Agents (see part 3) are monitoring my MeeStream, learning from my ratings and preferences, and suggesting new resources for my consideration.

The MeeVault (I have borrowed the “Vault” term from Microsoft’s HealthVault initiative) is the family jewels underlying this dashboard. It is strictly local (MetaMee is a hybrid local/on-line application as I see it), and I have full control over the settings of what information is exposed, when, how, and to whom/to what. My personal information is “layered” into different levels, with full ID and purchasing info in the most secure area of the vault, only be released when I’ve decided to make an e-commerce purchase. The MeeVault feeds the “Settings” area, and we’d use those settings to expose or veil various layers of our identity with all of our web transactions.

What about privacy? If I’m sending out Intell-Agents with my preferences, and various information points are coming back into my stream, maybe I don’t want the world to know what I’m interested in. That where a P1 setting or APP (Anonymous Persona & Preferences) comes in. This is my “stub” residing out there on the front edge of MetaMee, talking to the Internet cloud. My anonymous persona communicates to the internet what I like, what my “similars” are, what I’m seeking – but it does not identify me. This way, our various APPs can communicate similars to each other and help us find more of what we want, but without compromising our full identity.

Let me pick on Tangerine Toad again. For a long time, very few people knew that the man behind the Tangerine curtain was Alan Wolk. But there was a persona out there, Tangerine Toad, and you could actually know a good bit about whomever was hiding behind that ID – you could see his interests, discover his similars, learn from him…all without knowing it was Alan. Similarly, our APP stub allows us to express the full range of our interests and find matching resources in a “safe mode,” before exposing our identity.

Admittedly, this is a lot to digest, and “there be dragons” here in the many technical details. What are your thoughts? You technical/programming types – is this out beyond the stratosphere, or is it do-able? Would love to get your feedback as we crowd-create this (very rough) blueprint of an ideal web dashboard…

Links to the entire One Interface to Rule them All series:

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

Part 6

plus…The Ideal Social Media Interface

Related post: Share Media vs. Tell Media

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About Steve Woodruff
Steve Woodruff is a blogger, a Connection Agent, and a consultant in the pharma/healthcare industry. He specializes in helping people and companies make mutually beneficial connections.

9 Responses to One Interface to Rule them All (part 4)

  1. JMacofEarth says:

    How about trying to build this uber app on FFoFF? My new favorite platform, FriendFeed on FireFox. I’m working on some concepts using iGoogle pages and will share when there is something fun to look at.

    Hey! There it is! The internet as “cloud!” Dude if you where there, then you’re as old as me.

    Great thread. I hope it inspires as much in others as it has in me.

  2. Steve,
    Still thinking about the concept itself, as the integration of several important elements, more than about how to technically implement it… (yet!) ; )

    1. – Having a sync-able, flexible “personal environment” is also one of the main keys. Flexible, in the sense of accessible from different platforms. One master password dealing with all your media/social apps/-eventually banking- passes.
    2. – Being mobile seems to be what we are inevitably heading to.
    3. – Intelligent and learning (seems to be the most difficult!!! … and so is probably where a lot remains to be done).

    Four links to feed your thoughts : (“IN” and “OUT” from 1 space – check it out) (getting all synced together) (NOKIA’s next BIG thing – for the next 5-10 years!) (expect hot-hot stuff to be coming out of that canal!!!)

    After a quick look around… I have the feeling there is something good in each of these 4 examples, but what I’m missing so far is point 3. from above together with an “organic” – “look & feel” – user friendly (more data = more complex to set and organize in order to SIMPLIFY your everyday life use).

    Wish we could integrate all above around something like this :

  3. I love your examples Steve. They just rang so true for me 😉

    Seriously though, I think you hit on a key thing that would make this work for me: the ability to choose which inputs from people I wanted to get.

    That’s my big frustration with FriendFeed: I get way too much information from people I barely know.

    The other problem is duplication: Twitter already lets us automatically feed it our blog posts.
    Facebook lets us feed both blog posts and tweets and photos… at what point do we stop?
    And of course, most people don’t have blogs. OR know people who write them. So what’s the value of this for them? Maybe they get feeds from magazines they like or something similar?

    Thanks for bringing this up though – it’s an excellent topic, worth examining.

  4. Karen Swim says:

    Steve, adding the layers of personal security seals the deal. I would also think that if this functionality could be achieved, then we could add multiple “personas.” Presently managing social media campaigns for clients adds a new layer of complexity to managing online identities and multiple streams of data. I love the idea of controlling your own behavioral targeting with the intuitive discovery part of the application. It would be like adding a controllable TiVo layer to this wonderful dashboard. So again, I ask any smart developers out there willing to take this on?

  5. @Karen I hadn’t actually thought about multiple personas, just the one “layered” persona and an anonymous stub. But the multiple persona idea has clear merit!
    @Alan – I’d like to see this type of app developed so that it would be immediately and intuitively useful to a “newbie”. Perhaps using mostly the View and Buy/Sell functions, then later maybe growing into publishing if so desired. The key is to make it compelling to the broad middle – relatively new users and quite experienced users – lots of flexibility but still intuitive with immediate value. That would mean great design!
    @Luc – great contributions!
    @JMac – FFeed has some of the right ideas. There’s slow movement in this direction of a single site to do multiple things, but too slow imo!

  6. Chris Kieff says:


    I like everyone else here loves the concept. However, I see the practical side of this and I shudder. The devil is in the details and implementing this on a broad enough base of web sites to make it attractive and useful is where it becomes a serious challenge.

    For a comparison look at IM clients. Wikipedia lists dozens of clients that will all allow you to work on all of the major IM platforms from a single screen. I use Trillian and I don’t care if you’re on AOL, Yahoo IM, MSN, GoogleTalk or Jabber- I can always talk with you.

    Now look at microblogging- we have Twitter, Plurk, Plaxo, Friendfeed, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc. We have several platforms like Ping.FM that let you post to numerous of these sites at one time. But not a single one that let’s you read from them. Twhirl is the closest and it’s very poor at it really only servicing Twitter, with a little FriendFeed.

    This is not an issue of technology, but rather an issue of coordination and multivendor support. Technically it can be done; managerially working with all of these different vendors, whose livelihood depends upon differentiation, is the real challenge.

    The last wrinkle is the mix of the target audience with the technology. Your stated target is the super-user, those who are on multiple networks and monitor multiple services. The challenge is that each network will add new features with different wrinkles to differentiate themselves in their efforts to compete. The MetaMee will be forced to support a subset of features from the plethora of services to keep the complexity at a manageable level. Will the target audience of super-users tolerate stripped down support that lags new feature introduction?


  7. @chris – good feedback. You bring up a valuable point about cooperation among service providers. A lot of this will depend upon published APIs, but there does seem to be positive movement in that direction, no? And, to clarify, my stated user is not actually/merely the power user, although a power user will be able to take full advantage of all the features. I’m more concerned about the regular internet user who needs a coherent way to be introduced to the richer web world, including social media apps. A way to make it all less bewildering is a major goal of this concept.

  8. Pingback: One Interface to Rule them All (part 5) « StickyFigure

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