TECH TALK: Rethinking the Desktop: The Digital Dashboard

The Digital Dashboard is made up of a many components, each of which individually can be thought of as portlets. The various portlets available to us are:

Email: This shows the most recent emails in brief. Clicking on any of the emails opens up Evolution. There is also a link to create a new email, which opens up the Compose window of Evolution.

IM: This shows the list of buddies and the messages which one may have received while one was offline. Clicking on IM will open up the GAIM application.

Documents: This shows a list of the recent OpenOffice documents created or edited by the user. There are also links which will directly open up any of the OpenOffice applications – Write (word processor), Calc (spreadsheet) and Impress (presentation). It is also possible to create “bookmarks” of frequently accessed documents, so they are now no more than a click away.

Bookmarks: Showing a list of bookmarks as an outline with categories is the first step. What would be useful is to classify bookmarks into three sub-sections based on frequency of visit: Daily, Weekly and Occasional. The computer can remember when one visited a site last and can highlight sites which need to be visited “today”.

Calendar: The calendar section comprises of the three sub-sections: a navigator for this month and the next, today’s appointments, and today’s events. For details or new additions, one can click through to Evolution’s calendar component. What is new here is the ability to subscribe to an “events stream” which can show items of interest today and in the future (for example, sports events, conferences, etc.)

Contacts: This again links in to Evolution, providing a search interface to find people. One nice feature would be a “connect-to-a-friend” feature: showing up the name of one new person from my contacts database who may not have been contacted for a month or more.

To-Do: The list of things to do, linked with Evolution’s application.

RSS Aggregator: The RSS Aggregator is perhaps at the heart of the dashboard. Its ability to subscribe to different RSS feeds on the Internet and Intranet, collecting news items and enterprise events, is the tsunami – increasing by 10X the information that one can process in the same time. The RSS Aggregator will have multiple categories (much like email folders). An item can be deleted, posted to a weblog with or without comments or emailed, all with a few clicks.

New Blog Post: This section enables the user to select a category and post a new item to the blog – either the private blog, the public blog or a group blog.

My Blog: This would show my weblog for today in outline format.

Links: There would be additional links available for applications like Calculator, or anything else the user chooses to set up shortcuts for.

Search: Think of the Search as Google for the desktop. The search should cut across all the information and documents that a user has on the desktop and extending to the Internet, showing the results in a Mozilla-window with tabs for each of the verticals that it has searched: emails, documents, blog entries, address book and the Internet.

I have created a partial mock-up of the Digital Dashboard at

Tomorrow: Spaces

“Rethinking the Desktop”

Published by

Rajesh Jain

An Entrepreneur based in Mumbai, India.