Chris Schmidt (crschmidt) wrote,
Chris Schmidt
crschmidt

Dashboard

small exampleComputers should be used as a tool - a way of interacting with information in order to learn more, a way of communicating effectively with people. Computers should be able to start to learn what you want, when you want it, and where/why you want it. Computers should recognize what you're doing and act as a help, not a hinderance.

Have you ever wished that as you were talking to someone, you had a list of the last few times you talked to them? Or emails you sent them? Have you ever wanted to have a tool give you links about what someone else was talking about, because you didn't want to have to go there yourself? Or instead of links, the information about the page that someone had just mentioned?

Technology should not act as a barrier to information, but rather, a gateway to it. No one wants to go looking for what they want when they're having a conversation with someone else - they just want to know it.

Search engines were the first step in this cycle. At this point, if Google doesn't have what you're looking for (and you have any decent ability to search Google) it's really just not there. Search engines are huge stores of information which can help you find anything you're looking for. The problem with this scenario is that you still have to look for things - you can't just have the information available.

So, the next step is to bring all the information that you want to you - without you having to go search for it. The information needs to start coming to you.

Dashboard is a tool that works to start this movement. Dashboard (http://www.nat.org/dashboard) is a Gnome based Mono/C# application geared towards providing the information you want, when you want it. Whether you want information on the emails you've sent someone, contact information you have for them, or some other form of information, already available on your computer - Dashboard is there.

Right now, Dashboard is a geek-only type program - lots of stuff that's constantly changing and mutable - and it's geared towards GNOME users. However, the possibilities this kind of thing offers are endless.

Imagine you're talking to someone on IRC - and someone makes a link to someone's weblog, journal, whatever. Dashboard catches the URL, and compares it to your address book. If you list that person - bang. Instant information. Suddenly, your Dashboard shows the last time that person talked with you on Gaim, their email address and contact information, the last email you sent them, and the last time you visited their journal. Gaim, Evolution, and Mozilla all store this information - Dashboard simply takes information you already have on your computer, and makes it all available to you.

Data integration is the way to be. Keep everything together - but don't do it yourself. Bring up all the information you need - and more importantly, none of it you don't need - without needing you to do anything at all.

That's what the future of computing is. Seemless integration into everything you're doing. Information available, at your fingertips, with nothing impeding the flow of information. Picking up on what you want, why you want it, and giving you more.

Now that, my friends, is the real use of technology. Learning what you want, and helping you to find it, is what computers are really good for.
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