Blake Ross takes on information management

February 20, 2007 ⋅ 3 Comments »

I just ran across this article that talks about what Blake Ross (one of the Firefox guys) is up to next. It actually sounds similar to some of the ideas I have been playing around with:

“Right now, people want to shuffle around content,” he says, “but the world’s fused together by a collection of hacks.” Something that should be simple, say, getting photos from a digital camera onto the Web, is a Sisyphean task for most people. “Step back and ask, ‘What’s wrong with this picture?’” Ross says.

The article describes his new project, Parakey. It seems to be an easier way to share information online — a kind of web OS that will be seamlessly linked to your desktop. There is a client the runs on your machine, and it keeps track of all kinds of information: photos, emails, etc. You can access the information through a web interface, and easily share it with other people. At least that’s the impression I get.

This touches on one of my main complaints about the current software world: we have all these specialized applications for dealing with different kinds of information, with incompatible data models and inconsistent features. It sounds like Parakey is taking the “one app to rule them all” approach, and I think any solution that requires people to switch away from Flickr, Gmail, and MySpace to some other half-baked equivalents is not going to be successful. I hope I’m wrong about Parakey though.

In the next few weeks, I’ll be posting an article that’s a bit more clear about my ideas: what I think is broken about today’s software, and how I think we might fix it.


  1. e - February 20, 2007:

    Parakey sounds like .Mac with sharing. Or a Flickr for non-photos.

  2. Patrick - February 20, 2007:

    Yep, ".Mac with sharing" sounds like a pretty apt description. Except, I think the idea is that you would use the Parakey web apps for all your work, whether it was shared or not. But I'm not positive.

    But I don't see what you mean by "Flickr for non-photos". I think it's a bit more like iPhoto or Picasa, which offer an easy way to share things the albums and photos on your hard drive. Flickr, on the other hand, still requires you to go through a bunch of extra steps to share your photos. Now, if the Flickr uploader could connect to your camera, and if Flickr had some editing tools, then I think you're getting closer.

    The reason I am interested is because they seem to be looking at the same problem I am: "Why is it so hard to do simple stuff?" For example, once you've got a photo album on your computer, shouldn't sharing it be as easy as clicking a single button?

  3. Jay Pullur - February 27, 2007:

    SHaring off the desktop seamlessly through a web portal is something very similar to what Dekoh does. Dekoh Apps can carry user interface as simple and uncluttered as anyother to suit mom and pop.

    However, Parakey might have a different focus. That will not be apparent till thier fullblown website comes up.