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Re: [Nmh-workers] A useless but interesting exercise: Design MH from scr

From: Peter Davis
Subject: Re: [Nmh-workers] A useless but interesting exercise: Design MH from scratch in the 2014 context
Date: Thu, 20 Feb 2014 12:10:36 -0500
User-agent: Mutt/1.5.22 (2013-10-16)

I think the whole exercise is too limited. If we're going to really "blue sky" 
an idea, lets be revolutionary.

First of all, the whole concept of email is kind of obsolete. There should be a 
universal messaging protocol that allows, for example, me to send you a message 
via email, and you
to receive it as a text on your phone, or however you choose to receive it. In 
other words, people should be able to use any messaging system they choose to 
send, and to receive,
without regard to intermediate formats. Conversion, if necessary, would be 
completely invisible to the users.

This universal messaging protocol should use something like XML or ASN.1 or 
some other more universal format. MIME is pretty much a kludge, and a pretty 
inefficient one at
that. Binary data has to be converted via Base64 encoding or something which, 
if memory serves, expands it by 20% or more. (Of course, XML has this problem 
too, but maybe just
using URIs and having the data accessed "on demand" would solve this and also 
reduce message size.) I note that GMail is now pre-fetching remote content, 
such as embedded images,
and showing you copies on their servers when you read the message, rather than 
accessing it from its source each time. This is more efficient, and protects 
your identity from potential
hostiles, so that seems like a pretty good model.

When I was working on my own browser-based email client, the working title was 
AFMP, for Archive/Folder/Message/Part, the four levels of navigation which are 
visible to the
user. In hindsight, even that seems pretty nerdy, since most users don't think 
of messages as having parts anyway. They think of heterogeneous "documents" 
with text, voice,
pictures, animation, etc.

Of course, I also believe the Web should do everything that Facebook does, but 
without the proprietary stuff, ads and privacy concerns. So take what I say 
with a grain of salt.


Peter Davis
The Tech Curmudgeon

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