Thursday, January 15, 2004

I'm intrigued in the outcome of a survey of E-Mint members about the future of the "organisation", and how it should communicate. In particular, the role of e-mail and the web. This quote, for instance:

"Email is important. I have some issues with the questions,
but take the third option, it implies that for 89% of people a Web based solution is NOT fine.

[snip]

In an ideal world the email and web elements would mesh so that each person could take part in those topics/threads that interest them, in the manner that they prefer (be that web, or by email, and if by email, they need to be able to respond by email, not have to go to a web site).
"

I've always preferred e-mail lists to web forums for any kind of textual discussion. The web makes sense for archives and searching, but not, I find, for threaded reading. E-Mint is a gathering of community-involved people, so this bias towards the lowly inbox is particularly relevant, perhaps.

I like the idea of making forums platform-irrelevant though. A web forum generally (in its base terms) copies the make-up of an e-mail client - threads and replies - and there's no reason why content can't be accessed from a variety of different viewpoints, a la newsgroup readers and groups.google.com.

Moreso, I increasingly look to tying functionality into my e-mail, as for certain tasks I find that it's a lot simpler to get the info to my inbox (which is my focal point on the desktop), or to send an e-mail and then forget about the result until it gets sent back to me. In fact, perhaps this is it - the ability to separate out request and response, and to be able to change to a different context in the gap between.

Certainly, this doesn't fit all tasks, and for these a different, streamlined paradigm makes more sense. But I do feel that it's a shame that so much of the innovation of recent times has happened in the web browser when it may not necessarily be suited to do so.

Here's an idea. Now that Mozilla has XUL customisation a lot more easily accessible, could we see the development of "social" software that ties in with the e-mail client a lot more? Unfortunately, there are no plug-in standards for e-mail as there are with browsers, so clients (e.g. applications that bring up information about the mail sender in a separate panel) would have to be bespoke, and rewritten for different e-mail programs. But the potential opened up by this could make for interesting, if not heavily accessible (and therefore less popular) services, and cross-paradigm interfaces.

When I can control the world through my inbox, I'll be happy...

No comments: