11 days ago I suggested¹ a unified Sent box of everything sent/reacji’d to all Slacks logged-in with the same email. Beyond Slack though, everything you write & send anywhere: txt, chat, email, web. A Universal Outbox of all content you create, including responses. A flat time ordered list of output across mediums. And a source of material to blog.

The phrase “Universal Outbox” seemed obvious to describe such a feature, parallel to the idea of a universal inbox that I remember first learning of as a concept from Apple’s AOCE project² in the early 1990s, but called a “single universal mailbox”.

Figuring someone must have come up with the idea, I did a web search, and found a minimal wiki page from 2011:


which did vaguely describe the idea:
 “a single hub where someone can find all your outbound LifeStreams?”

Except I don’t want “where someone can”, but rather “where I can”, which is an important distinction, because it would explicitly include things you send to a single person or other limited audience.

And yes, “can find”, with full personal search.

Aside: the “where someone can” use-case of the presumably more public “all your outbound LifeStreams” is essentially what an #IndieWeb site is for. One place to publish all you want, any way you want, in a composite stream.

How many times have you texted, IM’d, Slacked, or emailed nearly the same thing, maybe to different people, retyped from memory, that you could have searched, and copy & pasted instead?

Or how many times have you written similar public posts, replies, or emails, on the same topic, where you said the same thing just slightly differently?

What if you could publish such common ideas, concepts, points once, with a permalink, and then cite that permalink rather than retyping the same thing repeatedly?

The idea of a Universal Outbox feels like a logical extension of many IndieWeb practices such as owning your data³.

While all the things you post on your personal site are a part of your Universal Outbox, they are only a subset. Even if you include everything you can PESOS from other sites, that still leaves services and sites without API access, or with APIs you may not have permission to use.

Another approach that may work well is a browser add-on, which would at least be able to collect everything you type into websites. Such an add-on would be more useful than a keylogger, because a browser add-on would have a much better understanding of and access to the context of where you are entering information. An add-on could keep track of permalinks to each statement, e.g. each statement in Slack has a permalink (viewable only with login).

A modest prototype add-on could start with my initial suggestion, a universal sent box that aggregated everything you said across all Slack instances you use in that browser. This would be particularly useful for keeping a personal log of your statements across free Slack instances where everything you say disappears in 90 days.

For now, perhaps the manual-until-it-hurts answer is to periodically check the “Drafts & sent” folder in free Slacks (from the bottom upwards, since Slack’s web UI lacks the ability to sort or reverse the order of your Drafts & sent folder), one instance at a time, blogging or otherwise copy/pasting anything you want to cite, save, or remember.

This is day 31 of #100DaysOfIndieWeb #100Days

← Day 30: https://tantek.com/2023/043/t1/footnotes-unicode-links
→ Day 32: https://tantek.com/2023/047/t1/nineteen-years-microformats

Post Glossary:

composite stream

¹ https://chat.indieweb.org/2023-02-02#t1675370124338700
² https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apple_Open_Collaboration_Environment
³ https://indieweb.org/own_your_data

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