Ideas swirling around – on Microcontent applications

Soon I’m going to shut up and do some actual work on my Web of Ideas application. But I have to note a few interesting things that have surfaced recently on the topics of ideas and microcontent.

Firstly, Erik Benson has just released his own Ideas Database. As to be expected from Erik, who created All Consuming, it’s a nifty piece of work. The user interface is crisp and clean. Entering a new idea is a breeze – enter a title, a category, and lastly the detail. Once a new idea has been entered, users can vote on a variety of value indicators including revenue potential, ease of development, cost. Currently Erik’s Idea Database seems very project-focussed – each idea is something that can be developed into a full-blown product/service. But I imagine this application is flexible, so e.g. you could use it as a database for music you want to buy or listen to. You could change the value indicators so users can vote on each music “idea” – e.g. give it 3/5 for hipness, 4/5 to indicate how much you want to buy it, etc.

As to how Erik’s product relates to my own Ideas Database, what I have in mind is more focussed on microcontent. Each “idea” in my definition will be a chunk of information, which may or may not lead to something more concrete. e.g. one thing that I may enter into my db as an idea – “Investigate the progress of Chandler (the open source PIM)”. This is simply something I have in my head that I want to note down – somewhere. Currently I just jot it down in my paper notebook, or email myself a reminder, or enter it as an Outlook task or note. None of these things is satisfactory, mainly because I don’t use any one of those methods of ‘idea capture’ consistently.

That’s what I’m thinking of when I refer to an Ideas Database. It’ll be topic-based, so I may want to assign values to ideas and definitely I want to be able to link ideas together. So there are simularities with Erik’s Idea Database. But I’m also focussing on the microcontent angle and ideas as information chunks, so I think it’ll be different too.

Steve Gillmor has written about something similar recently. Steve wrote:

“What I’m really looking for is a private Google, where I can find random notes without exposing them publicly–or more precisely, to unsubscribed (unauthorized) readers.”

Steve is talking about much more than just an Ideas Database (he regularly pushes the ‘RSS will replace email’ message). But it touches on a groundswell of feeling about microcontent. Anil Dash’s famous “Microcontent Client” may be just around the corner…

Let’s not forget the PIM projects too (Personal Information Management). I’ve been watching the progress of Chandler and Haystack. I’ll have to write an article about those two soon (see above).

Lastly for now (I have so many ideas swirling around in me head!), I’ll briefly mention John Robb’s “Web 2.0” concept. John wrote:

“What is Web 2.0? It is a system that breaks with the old model of centralized Web sites and moves the power of the Web/Internet to the desktop.”

Yes this is very similar to Microsoft’s “Smart Clients”, which Robert Scoble has talked about. John cited Radio Userland as a good example of a desktop rich client. This is an interesting discussion, but I don’t think we have enough information to know where Web 2.0 is headed yet. We’ll have to wait for more Longhorn details (Robert Scoble reckons this will come at the Microsoft PDC), plus watch further products from the likes of Macromedia and see how all the independent innovators go (e.g. Userland, Broadband Mechanics).

Right, now I better get to work on my own very humble development attempts. Less talk, more action 🙂

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