Supernova: Afternoon Thoughts


Here are some thoughts I recorded as I listened to some of the topics this afternoon.

From Marc Canter: "FOAF is a lingua fraca for identity data."

From the Connected work panel: "We need to be able to move authenticated secure sessions between different messaging systems." I was struck by the fact that we have all these different messaging formats and transport protocols and we can't translate between them. They're silos.

In the email panel, Stowe Boyd said: "I think email sucks!" He goes on:

I think that IM is a better model -- so much better that email will have to adopt the defining characteristics of IM to survive:
  • Gated community -- IM are networks, and the members must log in to enter. Once in, the members must follow certain protocols of interaction (either directly or indirectly enforced) or they are booted out. This could prohibit sales intrusion, sex advances, etc., depending on the network's arrangement.
  • Communication with the Known -- while IM networks may allow strangers to contact us, we can opt to shut them off. In essence, we can limit communication to those that are known to us.
  • Conversation, not Communique -- email is not conversational, really, unless you believe that sending letters through surface mail is conversational. Conversation is generally better than dueling essays, which is the communication style that email engenders.
Well. We will see, but email -- because of the fundamental flaws in the system -- is falling down. What made it useful in an earlier world is dooming it in this one.
From Supernova Email Panel: My Spiel: I Think Email Sucks
Referenced Thu Jun 24 2004 17:12:11 GMT-0600

Stowe isn't just talking about email. By IM he means a general purpose presence-based platform that handles not just text messages, but any kind of messaging. The issue really is that we treat email for everything. As Jon Udell says, "email is a jack of all trades and a master of none." New tools like IM, blogs, and RSS are going to chip away at this, but so far, they're just chipping away.

Esther Dyson said something interesting about adding friction to email, which is a general way of talking about computational taxes on sending email. Something she said though, made me think that this ought to be smartly applied, however. We want to create friction selectively to force certain kinds of conversations to happen in certain ways. This may be too difficult in a universal sense, but its certainly doable in the small sense.

For example Sento, where I'm on the board, provides contact center services, but our goal is to do so in a way that saves our clients money by selectively creating friction for the most expensive ways that their customers communicate with them (e.g. phone) and thus drive customer interaction less expensive interactions (e.g. chat and email). Could enterprises do similar things to push people to more effective communication media (IM, Wiki, Blog, RSS, SMS, etc.) for the task they're performing? Maybe.