W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > www-rdf-logic@w3.org > November 2000

Re: Semantic mail

From: Dan Connolly <connolly@w3.org>
Date: Wed, 08 Nov 2000 21:44:55 -0600
Message-ID: <3A0A1DB7.33DCB5CE@w3.org>
To: gf@medianet.org
CC: phayes@ai.uwf.edu, www-rdf-logic@w3.org
Greg FizPatrick wrote:
> I disagree with your thinking that email should be treated differently than
> any other form of content  on the Internet.

Quite. See also:

Protocol - Smotocol 

Another inconsistency is the current strange division between mail,
browser, and news reader tools. Each have editors. The editors are
in some cases plain text, and in some cases fancier things such as
HTML. On the Internet, a mail agent allows you to use the Simple
Mail Transfer Protocol, a news agent allows you to use the Network
News Transfer Protocol, and a web editor allows you to use the
Hypertext Transfer Protocol. This is of course totally meaningless to
a user. From the user's point of view, the mail program allows you to
move data between mailboxes (folders by any other name) and also
allows you to link it into someone else's "In" box. I say "link" as it
creates the relationship "this message (file by any other name) is in
this mailbox (folder)", which we said above should be a link. 

A news editor allows you to link a news document to a widely visible
group (box, folder by any other name) which is visible to people all
over the world. Functionally, it is very like mailing something to a
of people, as it creates links to the document from groups in each of
their news readers. 

A web editor allows you to upload a document into a web server,
though the way in which you do that varies. (The original meaning of
the HTTP "put" operation was to have been a very equivalent "make
new document and make link from this" operation.) 

Now suppose you want to create a bit of information and you want
to link it from a few individual's "in" boxes, a few news groups and a
few hypertext documents. You also want it to show up in various
folders. Which application should you use? 

Clearly, this is a choice which the user should not have to make.
Conceptually, a number of links are being made. In practice, various
protocols will be used by the system. In the future, combined
protocols may exist which efficiently perform all these functions as
appropriate. Let's not bother the user with this.

  -- Tim Berners-Lee - Consistent User Interface
  Thu, 24 Feb 2000 17:06:19 GMT

>  Surely it is the intended use
> that matters.
> When your email and my email get posted here...
> http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/www-rdf-interest/2000Nov/thread.html
> ..they turn into web pages.

Please don't think of the Web as limited to HTTP.
Your message had a perfectly good web address
before it was copied into http://lists.w3.org/ :


I am frustrated, about 100 times a day, that
my desktop doesn't know how to dereference
mid: URIs of mail messages that are
and that I can't bookmark them, link to them
easily, etc.

Never mind searching the whole web for
mid: URIs... let's start with being
able to dereference the ones I already
have locally. How many times have you
done the "I sent it to you last thursday...
look for fnorbles in the subject... yeah,
I copied it to web-weenies too..." ritual?
If I have a copy, and you have a copy,
I should be able to refer you to that
copy by its URI, say, in an instant message
or whatever.

I finally, *almost* figured out how to get
netscape to dereference mid: URIs, i.e.
to proxy them to HTTP... netscape
doesn't believe mid:foo is a URI
(I reported this against mozilla,
and I think it's fixed), but it
does believe that urn:mid:foo, is a URI,
and you can use a javascript hack
to redirect that.

I've got it working so that if I ask for


netscape will ask a local HTTP proxy that
I hacked up in python


which turns around and grabs the content via
IMAP, and returns it via HTTP. (sigh... IMAP
is just another GET/PUT/POST protocol.)

>  Are these pages not worthy of "tags" on the
> grounds that they originated as mail?

I've been noodling on using

	cc: connolly+travelplan@w3.org

as a way of "tagging" email relevant to certain
categories, represented as mailto:connolly+travelplan@w3.org

Of course, I think of this as another RDF syntax;

> Ps: A great deal of meetings are scheduled with the help of email - its just
> that this email is structured in an orderly manner.  See RFC 2445:-)

Yup... see also:

  A quick look at iCalendar
  Mon, 02 Oct 2000 19:59:28 GMT

I sure wish XHTML editors were sufficiently robust
for use as mail composition tools; here's hoping...

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  [a Person; called "Dan Connolly";
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	     homePage <http://www.w3.org> ];
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Received on Wednesday, 8 November 2000 22:45:08 UTC

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