TECH TALK: Collaboration: Enhanced Email (Part 2)
- Attachments Management: A central repository can be created for managing attachments, such that attachments are referenced “by value”, i.e, a link is sent to the attachment, rather than the actual attachment itself. This ensures that email sizes become smaller, multiple copies of the file do not get made, and the recipient can always access the latest copy of the attachment. In the case where Internet connectivity is not reliable or intermittent, it may become necessary to replicate the attachments repository at each location (depending on the recipient list).
- URL-addressable Emails: Emails cannot be references from other emails. The problem is that they end up being in a private store, and do not have a unique address. The only option is to “cut-and-paste” the relevant message when referring to it. One way around this is to allow emails to be treated just like HTML documents and thus be given URLs. Of course, the message owner should have control on who gets to access the mails. Considering that emails are becoming the de facto way we communicate and where we think, the ability to uniquely reference emails (within emails and in documents) is much needed.
- Mail Memory: It would be nice if emails could remember what happened to them. For example, if I reply to an email or forward an email, this fact could be stored in the email itself and be visible to me (some messaging systems store this information as part of mail headers). This, combined with the Message Metadata, can help in sending reminders and keeping a timeline of emails and what actions were taken by whom. For example, emails coming in to a help desk, tagged with the actions, can help in checking on the speed of responses.
- MailBuddy: Instant Messaging (IM) and Email can be integrated together to provide a friendlier, real-time interface to actions. Jabber can be used as a possible IM platform. Instead of communicating between people, this IM “buddy” allows for communication between the mail client and the mail server. For example, this interface can be used to make quick updates and interact with the calendar folder, or the global address book.
- Personal Communications Portal: A web-based front-end allowing a user to manage all the mail and collaboration options is needed. This interface can be used for forwarding or replication of mails to other mail access points like wireless devices or cellphones (“send all messages from my boss to my cellphone; tell others I am on vacation this week”), for the settings of shareable IMAP folders and for setting filters.
Email is good for many activities which involve one-to-one or one-to-many communications. For many-to-many communications and for capturing the “tacit Knowledge” I the organization, one needs much more than email. The answer to that is the Weblog.