I spoke to Ashwani Sirohi of Trimergent yesterday about their (beta) software. Ashwani talked about two major modes of information transmission in our wired world: sending it (email) or publishing it (portals, books, blogs). Trimergent are suggesting a third mode: sharing it.
But the tool actually has a number components, centering around search, which is what you see at the tool's start page. It is designed to conduct your search in multiple places via standard mechanisms. Of course, it does web searches, customizable to as many or as few search engines as you like. It also searches your desktop, your email and your contacts. On top of this, it can also hook into searches of corporate databases, assuming you have authorization to search and view the results. The results come back partitioned out by their source, so that one can clearly see matching emails, documents, web sites, as well as internal database matches.
Then there is the next feature: You can save the results of a search session. At first, this seems familiar. Trimergent have enhanced this far beyond your typical saved search. It saves the items that came back, not the specific query string. You can tell it which of the results you want to save, particularly with web searches which return too much information. Maybe you just want to highlight two or three websites, a record from an internal document management system, a couple contacts and a few documents from your personal store. Moving away from "saved search," you can explicitly add documents or websites or other content to the results. And for any of the items, you can leave a comment that provides more context around why you kept the item. Trimergent call this a "portal" - it's a personal portal that holds a very specific set of information on a topic. If any of the external sources change, you will see those changes the next time you access the portal.
This is all interesting, but what about the sharing concept? Any "portal" you save for yourself can be shared with other people. This sharing gives them access to everything in the portal, including items that reside on your desktop, such as documents and contact information. And if you change an item on your desktop, that change will be available to the share-ees the next time they visit the portal. You can share a portal with one person, or the entire company.
Of course, it wouldn't be sharing without the capability to communicate. Rather than having others modify your portal, they can create a "reply" portal in which they add their own comments or add / remove specific links they find of interest. They can even take your portal, repackage it and share it with still other people.
And to wrap back to the idea of search, when you search, the tool also brings back any portals or portal content that matches the search. This means that anything that has been shared with me is subject to the next search I do, including any shared items that happen to be sitting on someone else's desktop. To find an "old" portal, simply search for the title or a document or website that is contained in the portal. As with the rest of the search results, portal results are grouped separately for easier identification.
At this point, the software is intended for corporate use and it is still in beta. In fact, their website says they are looking for some customers to beta test. And there is nothing to disclose on my part. Ashwani showed off the software, and I did a little additional reading to form my comments.