June 15, 2004

it's messages all the way down

Apologies in advance for the less than half-baked rambler ahead, but Bill Seitz hits on something interesting about RSS and information management…

When an RSS item tells you something important, and you want to remember it, how do you do that? If it were EMail, you’d stick it in a folder, maybe set a flag or label on it. I guess now you blog it, which has the advantage of allowing you to attach more custom Meta Data so that it should be easier to find later. And some Rss Aggregator-s already have a “save” function, which I guess is an OK temporary approach…

Caveat the following as being from one data point – me. While I wait for the ultimate microcontent client, I find that I’m using several different “remembering” methodologies. And the decision re. which one to use is based on the interaction of privacy and context.

High privacy / high context: it goes in The Brain. Yep, still use it. Not as frequently as I once did, but it’s where I store links to companies, articles, people, etc., with related notes. It’s the personal research library.

Low privacy / low context: it goes in Delicious. Transient links of interest. The URL can stand on its own, and is linked to in an act of “hey, plus one from this corner.”

Low privacy / high context: blog it. Links of interest that require some sort of blather-mouthed commentary to prove just how “smart” I am.

“Sharable” privacy / varying levels of context: email it to folks. Like the story I sent to Matt Haughey yesterday about the ad buy that Schwab’s making on the Tivo network.

Which reminds me of Anil’s piece from late 2002 on the ultimate microcontent client. Still haven’t seen it, and yet the more I think about this problem of information discovery, sharing, routing and group forming, the more it seems that we’re headed to a deeper merger of the mail client, the browser and various and sundry publishing and content archiving systems.

I remain unconvinced that there would be anything better suited to this task than an email-like application that’s well integrated with the browser. What we’re talking about here is messaging: reading incoming messages (whether via email, RSS or whatever comes next), and writing outgoing messages: some to individual contacts, some to public spaces (like sippey.com or delicious), some to semi-private group spaces (on orkut or flickr or mailing lists), some to a personal archive, and some to one or more of those destinations (cc, anyone?).

So…universal inbox (email, notifications, RSS subscriptions, whatever), universal outbox (email, blog postings, social network postings, social bookmarking, personal note taking / filing). All searchable. All cross-referenced with all the associated contact lists(s). All with dial-able social network-based filtering / content ranking.

I mean, c’mon, Google, is that too much to ask for?