Is your email program the…

Is your email program the ultimate microcontent manager?.

Lilia wrote:

One of the questions from the audience was about number of technologies that one can cope. I share this concern given the number of communication/discussion tools I use.

Everything becomes email, according to some theories. Usenet, for example, was blended into mail clients, treating the usenet post like an email message. Completely hiding the plumbing from users, the differences ceased to matter. The usenet post became just another email message.

Perhaps blogging tools will also blend into mail clients.

  • Posting from your mail client (your blogs are just special email addresses) and IM/irc/SMS.
  • Read your RSS feeds with Outlook or Eudora or whatever Macheads use these days.
  • Configure your weblog with a properties dialog your mail client.

If so, there are some bonuses.

Safety and Comfort

  • Exploit mail’s ability to block spam and advertising (you’re expecting RSS advertising in your feeds, aren’t you?)
  • Scan RSS posts for active or hostile organisms (viruses, worms, etc.)

Filtering, Search and Notification

  • Organize incoming posts by content (not just point of origin or date) into folders.
  • Search your archive across email and RSS archives, one big database.
  • Alert the user to very interesting posts, using filters. 
  • Apply family filters.

Workflow and Collaboration.

  • Perhaps everything on a project gets cc’d to a project weblog
  • Trigger user action from enterprise systems

    • you have an invoice to approve
    • you have a meeting to summarize 

  • RSS as transport for distributed calendaring and scheduling.

    • Subscribe to my public calendar via RSS.
    • Request meetings via email. 

  • Manage my groups of people. One tool (my Address Book) to manage:

    • blogrolls
    • friend of a friend
    • LDAP directories
    • personal distribution lists lists
    • blogosphere neighborhoods, and
    • externally managed memberships (egroups, social networks).

Servers conflate also:

  • Mail servers cache and aggregate RSS feeds, just like usenet.
  • Servers following the IMAP model can hold backups of your email/blogging databases and address books.
  • Server managed access control to private feeds.

Microsoft, for one, believes users want all variations in microcontent to be manageable from one place, with one interface. Their standalone task-reporting tools for project members went nowhere until they blended them into the email clients. Now your Things To Do Lists work with the MS Project servers, communicating by specially formatted emails.

The upside?

  • Blogging as we know it becomes a feature. And everyone has it.
  • One user experience means lower learning curve.
  • As email clients become smarter, blogging benefits too.

The downside?

  • Blogging becomes boring, routine, work-like.
  • The browser interface becomes less important.
  • Newsreading must compete for time with your inbox.
  • It starts to feel employer-managed vs. personally controlled, just like your at work email.

A prediction:

The vendors who dominate messaging will shape blogging. AOL and Microsoft have fat clients, web clients, and chat clients. Watch them:

  1. Bring blogging into their messaging family.
  2. Absorb blogging user and group digital IDs into their identity mechanisms.
  3. Offer faceted blogs (everyone sees just what they’re intended to see and not what they don’t want to see) using digital ID. You’re not part of their ID world? No facets.
  4. Push blogging into all their customer touch points (voice, SMS/iMode, handhelds, desktop software, etc.)
  5. Fold blogging community servers (the Technoratis and Popdexes) into email and search servers.
  6. Offer tools for good citizenship (i.e. censorship, filtering) via community servers.

I’m not recommending this, mind you. I just have a hard time imagining a sustainable alternative scenario.

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