One Interface to Rule them All (part 1)

I’m on a quest (as I’m sure many others are) for the One Gold Ring – a single interface that will be my functional portal into the web. Right now, I go to too many places (iGoogle, Yahoo Mail, Google Reader, Flickr, Pageflakes, WordPress, Twitter, Plurk, Amazon, eBay, etc., etc., etc.) to “do web stuff,” and the fragmentation of these services is inefficient and frustrating.

For many years, I’ve mulled over ideal software interface designs, and have an electronic trail of litter behind me consisting of many boxes and flow diagrams exquisitely mapped out in…well, Powerpoint. In a prior post, I tossed out some very early-on concepts for an ideal social media interface. But the holy grail for me is much larger – I want to see a meta-interface that helps me conduct most of my on-line life.

Why do we need this? Well, fundamentally, the tools we used were designed only to fulfill specific purposes. They weren’t designed for me, to pull my life together, but to do one or two things. However, I don’t need another gardener or cook or chauffeur. I need a Chief of Staff. For a throwaway branding term, I’m going to call it MetaMee – because it’s about me.

What would this MetaMee interface be like? Here’s my highest level list:

    MetaMee would consolidate the main functional activities I have on the web into one simple interface.
    MetaMee would be a hybrid off-line/on-line system, built in part using Adobe Air or Google Gears or similar.
    MetaMee would allow storage and controlled release of varying levels of my information to different people/applications/businesses/other entities.
    MetaMee would talk to existing platforms (such as those listed above) in a widget-ized fashion.
    MetaMee would use intelligent bot/crawling technology to find, recommend, and deliver what I want, so that I spend less time searching.

How would this project get done? Here’s where it gets interesting. I’m not a programmer. And I know that there are tons of talented bloggers/socializers out there who are loaded with great ideas and talents far beyond mine. So I’m just going to put out a series of posts this month, outlining my preliminary ideas for this “dream” application, and invite all of you to discuss, refine, contribute, ideate…let’s see if we really mean what we say about social media. I think this app ought to be crowd-designed, and then someone will take the bull by the horns and start making it. Ready?

In the next day or two, I’ll post part 2 – the five main functions that I foresee in a MetaMee-type app.

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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TweetDeck – a Chirp in the Right Direction

I was excited this morning to test-drive TweetDeck, a new Adobe-Air based interface layer tying into Twitter.

It’s early days for this beta, but I like the general design concept. The key thing so far with TweetDeck is the ability to split up and customize the Twitter stream so that you can view it in “streams” of your own design. Also, it has an off-line component, so that you can write and queue up tweets when you are disconnected (or when Twitter is having a whale of a time being stressed out).

Plus, they have a nice little on-line forum for giving input/suggestions. I’ve already added several.

This app is one step closer to the ideal social media interface, an idea which I started exploring here. It also provides an impetus to start this week’s publication of a series of posts here on StickyFigure, where I’ll start to map out my ideas for the ideal EVERYTHING interface to the web!

Louis Gray has a nice review of TweetDeck here, with some more details, and ReadWriteWeb also gives a good overview. Doug Meacham also is liking the test-drive. Give them a read, then, if you can take having one more social media app, give it a download. I’m hoping that something like TweetDeck will provide the ideal, customizable interface to pull together all the various platform streams (Twitter, Plurk, identi.ca, FriendFeed, etc.) into one coherent location, so we can stop comparing services, and just converse more easily!

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I’m “Out of the Box” – how about you?

In the narrow old days, before the advent of all these social media tools, most of us had a very defined and constrained outlet (if any) for our creativity. Our jobs required that we occupy a certain role, and if we were lucky, one or even two creative strengths might get exercised.

And might get noticed by a handful.

With few exceptions (artists and musicians who became famous, the idle wealthy, etc.), whatever talents we had tended to stay in a box, or slowly decay due to lack of nutrients. My father was an inveterate tinkerer and a closet inventor, who had some pretty cool ideas – virtually none of which saw the light of day outside of his shed, and the eyes of his boys.

Now, if I have an idea, or a picture, or just about anything else, it can be moments from conception to birth. Talent has immediate outlets, and a potentially exponentially-growing audience.

Instead of having my “voice” pent-up and unheard, I now struggle with which “voices” to let out at any given time. The marketer? The professional? The comedian? The friend? The family man? The philosopher? In fact, they all end up coming out of the box, because they’re all…me. If anyone looked back on my posts and tweets and comments over the past few weeks, they’d have a hard time classifying me into any narrow box. And that is probably true of you, too. I say – good!

It’s nice to stand here with the cardboard pieces scattered about.

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Turning Points: How I became a Consultant

It was on I-80 Eastbound. On the way home from a little father-son getaway with my fourth at the Great Wolf Lodge in the Poconos. After a day of water-sliding, a professional epiphany at 60 miles per hour.

For 9 1/2 years, I’d worked with a small company doing sales/marketing/biz dev in the pharmaceutical training field. Enjoyed it, saw the company grow, but came to recognize that I had fundamentally different perspectives than the owner on many business approaches. Though we got along in a pretty transparent relationship, there was the constant sense that we were pulling in different directions.

Suddenly, driving home through the Poconos, it came to me. I wasn’t going to change. He wasn’t going to change. It was time to go our separate ways. If I was going to fulfill my professional desires and drives, and add maximum value, I had to “create it myself,” and not vainly hope that someone else would conform their business to my ideals, or custom-create the perfect position for me.

And what I had found I enjoyed most, over the years, was not selling. It was consulting. This, after almost 20 years in sales! But now, I was finally ready. I had the knowledge, the desire, the network, and ability to market. Gradually, a niche business consulting approach emerged in my thinking.

Giving what amounted to 7 months notice, we de-commissioned my role in the company, and after 10 years, I launched out as a consultant providing training strategy and expertise, as well as a unique vendor-client “matchmaking” service. I long believed that the best chance for business success is by defining, creating and occupying a unique space, and this was my chance.

The first year was hard. After 9 months, I began really questioning whether this thing was ever going to get “wheels up.” But then business steadily picked up, and now, I am dependent only on pleasing my clients, not on fulfilling someone else’s agenda. Wonderfully liberating.

How about you? Where was your professional “turning point” that started you on your course? Write it up on your blog and share the story!

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(this post was inspired by Director Tom (Tom Clifford), who did a Twitter post about writing up the 7 minutes that changed his life in the direction of becoming a filmmaker [once his post is up, I’ll link to it]. Tom suggested a series called Turning Points – so, here we are! Readers are encouraged to write up their own, and I’ll link to any that participate!)

Here is CK’s take on her career…

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