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March 7, 2006

Live Clipboard

At O'Reilly ETech conference, Microsoft's guru, Ray Ozzie, launched an idea: let's improve the clipboard model by letting the user copy-paste structured data.

"In the PC world, whose pre-GUI history was experienced through various flavors of MS-DOS, one of the greatest user benefits first delivered pervasively by the GUI was the radical concept of running multiple applications simultaneously and, more importantly, using them concurrently and inter-operably.
And what was the most fundamental technology enabling “mash-ups” of desktop applications? The clipboard. And a set of common clipboard data formats.

In its simplest form, the clipboard enabled the user to simply grasp the concept of moving a copy of the information from one application to another (i.e. by value).

In its most advanced form, the clipboard enabled users to set up “publish and subscribe” relationships among applications – dynamically interconnecting a “publisher” with a “subscriber” (i.e. by reference).

Each site is still in many ways like a standalone application. Data inside of one site is contained within a silo. Sure, we can cut and paste text string fragments from here to there, but the excitement on the web these days is all about “structured data” such as Contacts and Profiles, Events and Calendars, and Shopping Carts and Receipts, etc. And in most cases, the structured form of this data, which could be externalized as an XML item or a microformat, generally isn’t. It’s trapped inside the page, relegated to a pretty rendering.

So, where’s the clipboard of the web?

Where’s the user model that would enable a user to copy and paste structured information from one website to another?

Where’s the user model that would enable a user to copy and paste structured information from a website to an application running on a PC or other kind of device, or vice-versa?"

Here's a demo for Live Clipboard, that will hopefully be implemented in sites such as and that can copy data as an object.

Some examples for Live Clipboard:

* Copy an event from Eventful to your desktop calendar so it automagically gets placed in the proper date & time

* Copy your profile from MSN Spaces to Facebook, with the custom field for 'location' getting added to the profile

* Copy billing & shipping address information from the clipboard to an e-commerce site

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