Universal Inbox

(old page) An expansion of the BlogWeb RSS-aggregator idea. Why just have a tool that manages "incoming" messages that originate from blogs? Why not have a single monitoring/filtering app that processes everything you're interested in, from EMail to private NNTP newsgroups to blogs, etc? (Backlinks at bottom will lead to references of other people thinking about similar things...)

Rough goal: provide a single Portal/Dash Board for monitoring (soothingly) all the documents/messages that interest you, going in all directions (e.g. documents you write, tasks assigned to you, tasks you assigned to others, threads of conversations among other people where you have only a soft interest, etc.). See Brins Earth excerpt (or Manfred Macx stuff) demonstrating this idea.

  • hrm, actual benefit to this? Or is it just Wanking?


  • read lots of message/item/node types

  • filter/prioritize (maybe a series of agent filters which add/subtract points)

    • e.g. spam gets low rating (Bayesian Filter of content, prescence of red-tagged text, any JavaScript, more than 1 inline image...)

    • boss/clients and spouse get big push

    • every item from a channel you subscribe to starts with a certain number of points (actually, you'll probably have different tiers, each with a different default point value - see Ecosystem Of Networks)

    • each item gets auto-assigned a number of MetaTag-s (actually, WikiWordAsTag), and you can add/edit as well.

    • items linking to (esp. non-home) pages/items you've linked to (recently vs ever?): Blog Thread

    • maybe never delete anything (at least not automatically), but you may never look at 90% of what flows into the repository

    • reverse-glossary: turn word/phrase into WikiWord, index/tag (and add points)

    • Virtual Folder? (is Wiki BackLinks sufficient?)

    • do Meta Data/RDF magic like Zoe

    • every tag (WikiWord) is a filtering page

      • top items across categories appear like Sister Site-s
      • can have AND query of multiple tags
    • track status/priority (for tasks and for things you want to read/finish)

  • present overview (Personal Portal)

  • allow reading of detail

  • author/deliver items

(original page bits below)

You'd have to scrape and process lots of stuff. Then maybe you could just save the Meta Data as RDF.

Might it make sense to use RSS as the format of exchange?

This could be a GUI nightmare. Whether done as a Rich Client or local WebApp.

Paolo Valdemarin notes a Yahoo Groups feature to provide RSS. JosephKocherhans is thinking the same way about EMail.

Paolo Valdemarin thinks of this as a desktop-based portal app.

The Fetch Retriever seems to think this way.

(Oct'02 thought) What might make this a big win is making it more possible for people to use things other than EMail. I think most people default to using email for communication because all those discussions end up in a single Inbox (vs having that Inbox, plus having to remember to check various threads in the Group Discussion server, etc.). But if you could have an Inbox which was basically just a Personal Portal into lots of different tools (esp if each is very simple/focused), maybe things change. Note these push back against my related AppLog idea...

This smells similar to LifeStreams. Buts here the focus/mission is to prioritize what you look at.

BootStrapping thoughts

What Open Source app could be extended most easily in this direction?

It would be nice if Mozilla were up to this much customization. I have high hopes for OSAF...

Does this need to be:

  • an app that natively handles all operations and media types (e.g. EMail reader/writer, NNTP)?

  • Or a proxy/previewer that launches Best Of Breed apps like EMail? (kinda like Zoe?)


  • simpler to write

  • allows user to mix/match with preferred/Best Of Breed clients


  • native clients provide inbox listing but no other Intertwingularity benefits.

  • clients don't yet support URI for opening a message, etc.

How important is it to have the benefit of this functionality from multiple machines? Does it need to run in the Cloud? But then what about Off-Line use?

EmacsGnus has many features along these lines. Beyond NNTP and a variety of EMail formats and sources, EmacsGnus (EMacs) also supports accessing groups (forums) from Web searches, Slashdot, Ultimate BBS, web-based email archives like Yahoo Groups and mail-archive.com, RSS, local directories, and "document" groups. --KenMacLeod 19June2002

You might also be interested in my thoughts along these lines, which I wrote up in Introducing the Microcontent Client --AnilDash

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