News Column

Patent Issued for Identifying Content Items for Inclusion in a Shared Collection

September 9, 2014



By a News Reporter-Staff News Editor at Information Technology Newsweekly -- According to news reporting originating from Alexandria, Virginia, by VerticalNews journalists, a patent by the inventors Houston, Drew (San Francisco, CA); Beckmann, Chris (San Francisco, CA), filed on March 15, 2013, was published online on August 26, 2014.

The assignee for this patent, patent number 8819138, is Dropbox, Inc. (San Francisco, CA).

Reporters obtained the following quote from the background information supplied by the inventors: "As users migrate from local storage to network based or online storage of personal data such as photos, documents, music, movies, or other files, additional functionality can be exposed. For example, users can more easily share with others a web link to a collection of photos stored in the online storage. Users can organize files stored in the online storage into a hierarchy of files and folders, or into logical albums or collections. However, the details and additional complexity of network based file storage provide difficulties and additional opportunity for sharing data in the online storage environment."

In addition to obtaining background information on this patent, VerticalNews editors also obtained the inventors' summary information for this patent: "Additional features and advantages of the disclosure will be set forth in the description which follows, and in part will be obvious from the description, or can be learned by practice of the herein disclosed principles. The features and advantages of the disclosure can be realized and obtained by means of the instruments and combinations particularly pointed out in the appended claims. These and other features of the disclosure will become more fully apparent from the following description and appended claims, or can be learned by the practice of the principles set forth herein.

"The approaches set forth herein can be used to share data of one account with another account via a persistent pooled collection hosted by a content management system. One such example of a persistent pooled collection is a persistent pooled photo album of individual photos. A content management system can provide a limited or finite amount of storage space for each account to store data. A pooled collection can provide a common space to which a user of the content management system can contribute data, content items, files, and/or storage space from the user's account for use or access by other users associated with the pooled collection. A pooled collection can be associated with multiple users, and each user can choose to contribute some quantity of storage space from his or her own account to the pooled collection. Each user can contribute an equal quantity of storage space to the pooled collection, or each user can contribute a different quantity of storage space. In one variation, a pooled collection can be a persistent storage area, such as a folder, containing either the actual files or data, or pointers to the data stored in the respective user accounts.

"Disclosed are systems, methods, and non-transitory computer-readable storage media for generating a pooled collection. An example system configured to practice the method can receive, from a first user device, content items, such as images, documents, video files, applications, and so forth, uploaded to a first account at a content management system. The system can cluster at least some of the content items as a collection corresponding to a commonality, such as chronological boundaries, an event, photo tags, content of the content items, and so forth. The system can optionally cluster the content items into sets corresponding to time and location. The system can notify the first user or other user of the sets, or can generate a log entry reflecting the clustering. Notifications can include information such as a number of content items, a location, a date, a time, or a set storage size.

"The system can receive, from the first user, a request to share the collection with a second user having a second account at the content management system. In one variation, the system can present a list of content items in the collection to the first user prior to the request to share the collection. The system can receive input from the first user indicating a list of content items to include in the collection, and can update the collection based on the input. The system can generate, in response to the request, a persistent pooled collection at the content management system from the collection. The system can generate the persistent pooled collection by generating pointers in the persistent pooled collection that reference the content items uploaded to the first account.

"The system can transmit an invitation to join the persistent pooled collection to the second user. Upon the second user accepting the invitation, the system can link the persistent pooled collection to the second account so that the first user and the second user have access to content items in the persistent pooled collection and have permission to contribute content items to the persistent pooled collection. The system can update the collection by at least one of adding, removing, moving, copying, or renaming an content item in the collection, or editing collection details. After the pooled collection is created, the system can track changes to one of the persistent pooled collection or content items in the persistent pooled collection in a revision history. In this variation, the system can provide an interface for browsing the revision history and restore a previous version of an content item in the persistent pooled collection.

"The system can continue to populate the persistent pooled collection by identifying second content items in the second account that correspond to the identified commonality for the persistent pooled collection, such as a set of chronological boundaries, and transmitting to the second user a notification suggesting that second content items be added to the persistent pooled collection. Commonalities can be determined based on any content item attribute and/or what is contained within a content item. Upon receiving an affirmative response to the notification from the second user, the system can add the second content items to the persistent pooled collection. Generating the persistent pooled collection can include generating pointers in the persistent pooled collection, wherein the pointers reference the second content items in the second account.

"Further, the system can identify additional content items, of the same type as those already in the persistent pooled collection or of other types, to contribute to the persistent pooled collection, based on the identified commonality. The system can then either automatically contribute those additional content items to the persistent pooled collection, or can prompt the appropriate user to approve their contribution to the collection. When accepting an invitation to join a persistent pooled collection, a user can indicate whether or not to authorize the system to scan their account for content items to contribute, and the details of how to contribute those content items. In another variation, the user sharing the persistent pooled collection can establish settings for the collection so that a condition of participating in the pooled collection is allowing the system to scan for and automatically add relevant content items.

"Another example method embodiment handles deletions from a pooled collection. The system receives, from a first user device associated with a pooled collection including a persistent collection of pointers referencing content items from multiple user accounts in a content management system, a request to delete an content item in the pooled collection, wherein the first user is associated with a first user account.

"Upon determining that the content item is contributed to the pooled collection from the first user account, the system copies the content item to a new location outside of the first user account, removes the pointer to the content item from the instance of the pooled collection associated with the first user, and deletes the content item from the first user account. The new location outside of the first user account can be a storage space associated with the pooled collection. The new location outside of the first user account can include a user account associated with another user of the pooled collection. In one variation, the system further updates the pointer in the pooled collection to reference the new location for remaining users of the pooled collection other than the first user. The system can copy the content item to a new location by copying the content item to each user account, other than the first user account, associated with the pooled collection, essentially replicating the content item to respective storage spaces associated with each other account. Alternatively, the system can copy the content item to a new location by identifying a primary user of the pooled collection, and a primary user account associated with the primary user, then copying the content item to the primary user account. The system can notify the primary user that the content item has been copied to the primary user account. The system can select any user of the pooled collection as the primary user.

"If the content management system tracks version histories for content items, the system can also delete any available versions of the content item to delete, regardless of the account or collection in which the versions reside. In one variation, a contributor of a content item to the collection may have permission, for example, to delete the contributed content item, but not any subsequent revisions, while an administrator for the collection may have permission to remove all or part of the versions indicated in the version history.

"While these principles are discussed generically in terms of content items, the same principles can be applied to content items of a variety of types, such as images, documents, video, audio, source code, applications, and so forth. Content items can be represented as files or as folders, for example. The commonality for a particular pooled collection may vary based on the type of information available for each file type. For example, an application content item may not be associated with a date-stamp for image content items, but may be associated with other metadata that an image content item does not include, such as number of times the application was executed."

For more information, see this patent: Houston, Drew; Beckmann, Chris. Identifying Content Items for Inclusion in a Shared Collection. U.S. Patent Number 8819138, filed March 15, 2013, and published online on August 26, 2014. Patent URL: http://patft.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parser?Sect1=PTO1&Sect2=HITOFF&d=PALL&p=1&u=%2Fnetahtml%2FPTO%2Fsrchnum.htm&r=1&f=G&l=50&s1=8819138.PN.&OS=PN/8819138RS=PN/8819138

Keywords for this news article include: Dropbox, Dropbox Inc., Information Technology, Information and Data Aggregation.

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Source: Information Technology Newsweekly


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