Something that a lot of my project ideas have in common lately is a kind of generalized document management framework.
This isn't as impressive as it sounds, actually. But it's kind of a key notion for Web 2.0 stuff -- if you want collaboration, you have to have a place to store that collaborated content. That place is the document management system.
Let's consider this for a moment, in the context of the fantasy name generator from last week. That fascinating little thing takes a simple document -- the language definition -- and runs a Perl script on it, yielding some interesting results. The Toon-o-Matic does the same thing; it takes a simple XML document and runs a whole sheaf of Perl on it to generate an image. A Wiki for my general site content, or a forum, or even a simple Web form post, can all be seen as doing the same thing. An online programming tool; same thing. All these systems share a component -- the user can submit a large (ish) text object, often based on an existing one, for arbitrary processing, which usually has some visible effect on the system.
If you just look at that little unit of functionality, you can imagine lots of attractive ways to extend it, too. As I mentioned in my initial post on the fantasy namer, you can suddenly imagine allowing people to name a particular definition. You can imagine a page devoted to it, perhaps including all the results it's generated -- maybe in ranked order. All that's a lot of different features, but the central one is simply being able to store and manipulate that central document. It provides a hook on which you can start hanging interaction; without the hook you can't even conceive of where to start.
So this notion's been in my head lately. Oh, I'm sure all this was done in much more diligent detail ten years ago. (Well. Seven or eight years ago, anyway.) In fact, I can think of a couple of systems -- but they're all too damned complicated. What I'm after is the ability to boil these things down to their essence, to provide a language of thought about these systems. For myself, anyway. Assuming you exist, you may or may not benefit. (But I'll bet you would.)