Depot, an exercise in Community-Sourcing

No downloads or pics, just a quick rundown of a very cool app idea while it's in my head.

About a year and a half ago, I wrote a small winforms app.  It's stayed very rough around the edges and hasn't gone anywhere from the original prototype.  This prototype (I called it Depot) was written as a proof-of-concept of the simplest possible community-sourced bookmarking / tagging / searching tool that could possibly exist.  A self-organizing business-specific link / text library could provide immense value to a company.

Depot hinges on 4 basic features common with collaborative apps:

1. Producing: Adding content in the form of URLS and/or text (2 different fields that can be used individually or combined)

2. Tagging

3. Searching for any item by any combination of title words or tag

4. Sharing: All content is automatically shared, and open to edit & extend, by anyone within the network

The search is an autocomplete textbox, that works with any combination of title words and tags.  Typing 'catering' displays all catering items, but as you start to type 'catering madison', the suggestions filter appropriately.  As you would expect, changing the text over to 'thai madison' updates to items tagged or titled with thai and madison.

The url + text fields is an interesting feature - a user may want to toss in a quick note for a catering url someone else added, like "Beware the red curry!!!".

The app seemed to work beautifully, but the algorithm is not built to scale up yet.  Everything is cached heavily on the client-side.  There are no concurrency checks.  Also, to be fit for production, it will need some kind of user-auditing, history, and probably some kind of browser integration (or at least bookmark / favorites sync).

I don't know yet what will become of Depot.  I hope to find the time and motivation soon to dust it off and start polishing it up for a pilot group.  If nothing else, I got an ornery hog of a tag-search algorithm that may come in useful someday.

Print | posted on Saturday, June 07, 2008 11:43 PM

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