[FoRK] portals vs time

Ken Meltsner meltsner at gmail.com
Mon Jan 31 18:16:52 PST 2005


On Mon, 31 Jan 2005 20:58:56 -0500, Luis Villa <luis.villa at gmail.com> wrote:
>....
> Some folks I know are involved in a still quiet project to tackle this
> problem. They blame email itself, so they are trying to build
> something 'better'. Given the network effects, I'm fairly convinced
> their solution will (1) be better and (2) fail.
> 
> > In general, I'm still confused why we've backed off from "smart"
> > personal software.  Agenda way back when and Apple Data Detectors have
> > recognition capabilities
> 
> Hard problems, and with Outlook and Notes capturing basically all of
> the market, little reward.
> 
> > That, and much smart auto-classification tools.  Gmail tags are OK,
> 
> Blah. tags are the weakest part of gmail for anyone with decent mail
> load. I'm managing all my mail ATM through gmail, and they are just
> frustrating.


Definitely barking up the wrong tree, I think.  I've tried to get
several different groups weaned off of email for discussion over the
years, for example, but they just don't want to go.  You almost always
end up with email backed by a decent archiving system, rather than a
discussion system with email notifications.

Email, whether we like the user interaction model or not, is
ubiquitous.  Web-based email, Blackberries, SMS, etc.  all work with
email; anything that requires Web access starts with one strike
against it, anything that requires a fat client probably starts with
two strikes.

Heck, I'm enough of an old-timer that I don't quite understand why
email and instant messages are two separate applications.  If you want
presence, use IRC....

My own answer to the "why no 'smart' features" question is that it's a
case where getting it 80% right is straightforward, 90% is really
hard, and 99.9% essentially impossible, but that people expect at
least 95% success.  If they only expected 80% success, it would be
relatively easy.  Cf. text constraints from Lapis by Rob Miller:

http://graphics.csail.mit.edu/lapis/

which probably hits 90% or more.

Ken Meltsner


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