When using Twitter I love the trickle of updates from friends about what they’re up to. Each update is rarely earth-shattering in itself but I enjoy the cosy ambient feeling of being more in touch with what everyone’s doing. This reminds me that a few weeks ago I was wishing there was a piece of software that made exactly this kind of keeping tabs on friends easier. I shall call this vapourware Panopticon.
Most people I know online generate a lot of data about what they’re doing: weblog entries, instant messenger statuses, music at Last.fm, their location via Plazes, photos on Flickr, Twitter updates, and no doubt more. It’s easy enough for me to go and see all this stuff but I really want it aggregated in one place.
I want a little ticker-like display at the edge of my screen that updates when a friend listens to new music, posts a new photo, appears online, writes a weblog entry, changes their location, or does anything else that generates capturable data; Panopticon. I could then click to see the photos, writing, etc in my browser. I’d also be able to click to enlarge the ticker to show the latest information from all my friends, rather than just the few most recent updates.
Setting up Panoptican could be a bit of a pain. I saw it as an OS X app, so maybe it could be populated with your iChat buddy list to begin with. But then you’d have to laboriously associate each person with their Flickr accounts, Last.fm accounts, Twitter accounts, etc, etc.
Of course, if there was an online service that stored all this information for you, as I described in my previous post, maybe all this information about your friends could be pulled in from there. Maybe Panoptican and the social network service could be created by the same people (these imaginary people who exist solely to write software on my whim). So Panopticon would be a way of seeing the latest activity by all the people in the social groups you set up online.
Please, someone, go and build these two things and remember me when you make your fortune (or feel free to forget me when you start building this and the bubble bursts).