I sometimes have strange tech-related dreams that stick with me. At first I ponder them, and then normally I curse myself for not dreaming about something more interesting.
A couple of nights ago I dreamed about creating a new product called “The River”.
In the dream I realised that email, rss, igoogle, facebook, etc are all the same thing at a high level. They are all about events coming into a stream with different views of the data. Facebook does well as it has a nice river of information so you can login to the main page and you get a good view based on time and friends. Email does it well too, for the use case of people communicating. Feed readers do a good job at reading peoples thoughts (although they can catch many other events of course).
In the dream I developed an application called “The River” that was a filthy rich UI that showed your one main river of events, and various rivers that would run into the main one.
The river would contain:
- Incoming email
- Status events from fb, twitter, pownce, Cool.Next
- Event invites
- Blog entries via rss
- Photos uploaded
- etc etc.
The user can configure all of this, so normally you would see tier one events which for me would be:
- Email to: me, and a few lists that are important
- Blog entries from a trusted set of friends (note: not ALL friends)
- Status events from my good friends (note: not ALL friends)
As a way to get people sucked in, dream Dion did something quite smart. When a user signs up, they are asked for their FB/gmail/linkedin id to find people / invite them. Most services do that right now. However, there is an extra check box which states “if you see me connected on another network, automatically connect me here”. This means that you don’t have to keep accepting friend invites from the same people again and again. You should virally, quite quickly, get all of your contacts sync’d up. This is a small but important feature, and is one that services should implement. It drives me nuts to meet a new interesting person and then have to join up on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc. It is such a pain that each person normally only joins together on one of these sites, and fragmentation happens. It doesn’t make sense that I have 10 times as many connections on LinkedIn just because I have been on that site for longer.
Also, all of The River data is open, so it can become the place to hold your contacts. It sync’d with Address Book. It outputted FOAF and XFN.
I wish I had time to implement it!