With everyone debating whether email is being displaced by social media, I find myself returning to a thought I’ve been tossing about for a while. Why isn’t there a single, web based dashboard for all my internet-based communication? It should act both as an aggregator and as a messaging centre– a singular launch-point from which I can see the latest news and quickly compose messages that can be sent to any of my connected platforms: email, twitter, blog post, whatever.
I actually expected this to happen quite a while ago, and I know that there have been some attempts to pull it off, including Google’s increasing suite of apps (and the poorly exectuted iGoogle). I also had an interesting discussion about this on Twitter a few weeks ago, suggesting that part of Facebook’s success has to do with the dashboard. You access news, messages, shared links, photos and status updates from one convenient interface.
I’m no programmer, or I’d have built this by now. Despite that, I can tell you what would be required of such a thing if it’s to work:
Data needs to live both on my computer and in the cloud.
This dashboard of mine should live on a mini server on my computer, synchronizing with the cloud whenever changes happen. My data needs to be portable, it needs to be accessible anywhere, and I need to be able to own it. This means my little server would synchronize with servers “out there.” That way, I can still access the service through mobile devices and library computers, and everything will still be stored locally on my own computer.
Peer to Peer Connections
My contact info should exist as my identity on my personal server and when I change anything, it should push those changes to my “friends” or whatever you want to call people I’ve allowed to have access. This will always go directly to their personal servers, when possible, or through the cloud when needed. For larger files, I should be able to “post” them via a secure bit torrent feed. That way, everyone in my network shares the load of the file. Of course, I should be able to restrict automatic download of such files to a size limit, much like I do with my SMTP client.
River of News and Single Composition Interface
The heart of the dashboard will be a river of news, but filterable in a variety of ways, threaded and combining incoming messages from all my services, including email. A single interface will let me send email, post to my blog or update my status. It will default to whatever mode I’m responding to (if it’s a response), but I can select whichever services I want to push to.
A Public Face
This would look something like ClaimID, with an OpenID certificate built in and a button allowing people to request access.
I think the ingredients are all out there, just someone more clever than me needs to hook it all up.
What do you think? Can it be done? What else does this dashboard need?