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news and thoughts on and around the development of the iCite net
by Jay Fienberg

Email-type addressing for microcontent relationship management

posted: Aug 1, 2003 3:47:01 PM

I just came across this article from SYS-CON, Is Your E-Mail Client the Ultimate "Microcontent Manager"?, by evanwolf, whom I just figured out is none other than Phil Wolff. (I just met Phil last night at the blogger dinner, and I enjoyed talking with him.)

OK, I see now, Phil originally posted this on his blog last month: Is your email program the ultimate microcontent manager?.

I think the ultimate thing about email clients is the way they handle addresses. Email clients basically handle two-way (n-way) link relationships, and browsers and RSS-type feed readers basically do not.

One of the things I am working on, which was part of the inspiration for my post on Email, the web and the contagious database, is an email-like interface where your FROM: address is the URL for your website and the TO: address it the URL for a website you want to link to.

Whether or not my interface idea ends up working, I think the email client interface makes clear that there is a two-way (n-way) relationship between author (sender) and reader (receiver), and this kind of relationship is not explicit enough with websites or RSS-type feed interactions.

With microcontent, one major interaction is establishing a two-way or extending an n-way relationship. Content is published, subscribed to, re-published, subscribed to, etc. Subscription is not really a one-way relationship, in the way that RSS-type feeds work. RSS-type readers poll content publishers, but do not truly subscribe to them.

Coincidentally, when I was talking with Phil last night, he was talking about an idea he has and mentioned one content producer setting up an RSS-type feed one-way and another setting up another RSS-type feed the other way back, so that there was a two-way exchange of microcontent.

That interaction almost sounds like email, except that machines are generating content and pushing the send buttons. I think there is a good reason why Phil is thinking about this as something other than email, but if the email client is the user interface, what does it matter if it is email or RSS-type feeds? In fact, email would be more efficient, right?

Personally, I think email and email clients are not the best interfaces for microcontent or its management, and this is why RSS-type feeds are as popular as they are. But, I do think that email addressing and the way that email clients handle address management may be better suited for microcontent management than browser URL interfaces and RSS-type feed polling of website URLs.

So, I think we need to experiment with mechanisms that combine these addressibility features between browser, RSS-type feeds, and email. This iCite net project is a way for me to experiment with this.

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trackback from: the iCite net development blog
posted: Sep 17, 2003 4:01:22 PM
title: Email: what's was old is once again new

Whatever might be said about the value of conversations that do occur via blogs, the principal interfaces of blogs, being RSS newsreaders and web browsers, are interfaces for content and not interfaces for making connections / conversations between peo...

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