‹ Back to the blog listBorn of Frustration


This is absurd!  The computer should just automatically know how to manage my stuff...


Thorny problems

Like most people, I usually trash email after I read it.  Occasionally I've regretted not having something later on, but relentless deletion was the only way I had to avoid drowning in it all. 

I do much the same with the messages people send and the endless flow of attachments and other files I get. 

The trouble starts when I need to keep something — the only easy thing is to drag it to a folder named for that topic, which I have to stop and create if it doesn't exist.

Each time I found myself asking…

  • Why is this a manual process, shouldn't the computer know how
  • What folder should I put it in when there's more than one major topic?
  • Why isn't there an easy way to tag it to multiple projects or people
  • Once I file it, how do I reliably find it again?

The more often you have to deal with them, the more painful these digital thorns become.


And yet, despite years of searching there was nothing that came close to solving these problems in an easy and automatic way.  Sure, there are sophisticated filtering and categorization systems, but they require a lot of work to set up.  I don't need that.  I wanted something simple and unifying, something that just goes.

Worse still, the market was moving in a distinctly different direction… instead of bringing information together, for each kind of activity there was a flood of new but isolated apps, most of which did only one thing.  Most were unable to talk to each another, and almost none were safely encrypted.

I thought, somebody really needs to do something! 


Let's fix this

We started talking to lots of people — from programmers and network engineers to privacy advocates and designers — and it turned out many of them were also annoyed, or even really worried.

So we decided to join together as volunteers...


... in an ambitious effort to create an app with:

  • Total Encryption — make it completely safe for someone to consolidate their data in a single full-service app.
  • Sophisticated Analysis — create potent algorithms to understand what each thing relates to, and where it should go.
  • Powerful communications — design an encrypted anonymous global network, and make it robust by basing it on distributed peer-to-peer (P2P) technologies.
  • Complete Automation — make the magic happen all by itself; the user should never have to set or do anything.

This seemed a bit crazy at the time, nor can I honestly say we really understood how difficult it would be, but after several years of innovation and some amazing engineering, we've done all of it. 

These are all important, and we're going to talk about encryption in another blog really soon.  We're also going to blog about what it took to build the Kahuna™ network, and about automating complex technologies into a seamless experience for a user. 

But for now, we're just going to focus on the second goal: creating a sophisticated, private and personal analytical engine, and the astounding benefits that brings…


The Syndex

We've written a clever piece of code we call the Syndex™… it's a personal content analysis engine we've built into Merlin, and it’s private just to you. 

The Syndex™ constructs a web of meaningful knowledge by detecting relationships between seemingly unrelated things, no matter what something is — an email, a contact, a financial transaction, a file, an appointment , whatever — Merlin figures out how every item relates to everything else it manages.  


And the best part is, this happens automatically, in the background, all the time.


A simple example

Let's say you get an email covering three topics and addressed to four people.  Merlin will automatically create references to it in the activity folders of all four people, and additional references in the topical folders for the subjects discussed, making new ones as needed.

After you read the email you can press the AutoFile button, and the note will instantly disappear from your inbox, but it will still be referenced under all the people and topics discussed in it. 


It's as simple as that!  Just push the button.  Plus, it's not limited to email….


There's a lot more

Let's say someone sends you a file - maybe it's an attachment or a share. Merlin will automatically track when you got it, where it came from, who you subsequently share it with, and whether or not you already have other copies of it, in which case it will link it into a version chain for you.  Better still, if there's metadata in it or comments attached, Merlin will also create relationships to the file under every topic or person mentioned. 


In fact, you can discover what anything is related to simply by opening it and pressing the 'Relationships' button.  The item will 'flip over' and show you everything the Syndex™ has linked it to, including people, places, topics and events.

For example, open the details for your doctor and press Relationships to see all the appointments you’ve ever had, all the payments you've made, any emails you got from her, and much more.  


If she sent for tests, and you got an email from the lab, it will be referenced there too.

Or maybe you'd like to check on something that someone messaged you about six months ago.  That's not so easy in a conventional messenger, if it's possible at all, but in Merlin all you have to do is open that contact and flip it over… you'll see all your interactions neatly organized by type, date and topic.

Of course, you can customize everything and tell Merlin what you don't want it to save or analyze.  The only thing you can't turn off is the onion-like, multilayer military-grade encryption.  It's always on, making it safe to create a data landscape broad enough for the Syndex™ to work its magic. 



Merlin is personal electronic activity management as it's meant to be.

Published on 2016-06-08 by:
Information Custodian

Matters most: My kids, great sunsets, and freedom!