Semantic mail

I wont apologize for cross posting, since most such apologies are obviously
sheer hypocrisy.  Some people believe that what they have to say is of
broadcast value, and sometimes it is.  I hope that this is the case here,
since I am addressing the problem that has made the list(s) a bit confusing

I argue that before we can have a semantic web we should at least have a
semantic mail. Not the least in interest group collaboration.  In this
manner our public semantic mail would merge into semantic infostructures
which could be, with real-time dynamics, displayed in graphic renderings
that would be of significant value in choosing what we want to load and

We would no longer need to push our contributions onto one another's mail
clients, but present them for pull.  Interested parties would be able to
ascertain at a glance a mail's relationship to a development process before
loading it.  For starters all the (public) mailing lists of the W3C or the
IETF could be fashioned in this manner.

Though I am completely serious about this, I will warn you there is an
undertone in this proposal:  Would we do it?  Would we really insert these
tags into our mails?  The question is as pertinent for the semantic mail as
it is for the semantic web.  Everyone with  DC experience know that this is
a very tough problem.

In any case I checked this out with Dan B before springing it on the rest of
you and he offered some links which I have traveled to and partially
commented below.


Sounds good :) There are a bunch of things out there that try to improve
the mail situation, though I don't know of a comprehensive survey. JWZ's
Intertwingle on the Mozilla site comes to

Greg: good ideas from Jamie Z but as I understand it, this deals with mail
as defined in
RFC 821-2 (as is), without thought to extensions.


Re the details, I would propose a distinction between representations of
mail in RDF and re-formaliting the body of mail messages in XML/RDF. The
latter is harder as you'd need rich mail clients. Somewhere in there was a proposal a year or so back for
such a format.

Who sent it, which messages it is in reply to, perhaps an RDF
representation of autoclassified categories, plus annotations / comments
added after the fact. That'd be plenty to be going on with.

Greg:  (not able to follow that link just now) This is a rather cruxy thing.
As the DRUMS WG puts it:

:In the context of electronic mail, messages are viewed as having an
:envelope and contents. The envelope contains whatever information is
:needed to accomplish transmission and delivery. (See [SMTP] for a
:discussion of the envelope.) The contents comprise the object to be
:delivered to the recipient. This standard applies only to the format and
:some of the semantics of message contents. It contains no specification
:of the information in the envelope.

:However, some message systems may use information from the contents to
:create the envelope. It is intended that this standard facilitate the
:acquisition of such information by programs.

BTW -> might be of interest...


On Tue, 7 Nov 2000, Greg FizPatrick wrote:

> Dan
> Before sending this to the list - I thought I would run it by you.
> It is of course quite possible that this has all been gone through in some
> other time and place of which i am not aware.
> I would like to know what you think?
> ------
>   Well Gentlemen, (I might be taking a risk with this gentlemen
> but after a few thousand RDF mails it appears as if there are more women
> the island of Athos than these RDF mailing rosters) I wonder; since we are
> itching to bring about a Semantic Web, why is it that we cant first bring
> about a semantic mail, or semantic mailing list or a World Wide Mail?
> What would it take to work out a simplified schema(s) for mail
> collaborations? Schemas if accepted, could eliminate the push/pull
> being aired here on the RDF lists and elsewhere.  Mail using such schemas
> could be parsed into exquisite graphic bouquets of roots and stems and
> leaves and blossoms  and what have you – leaving it up to the beholder to
> pick and choose.  With World Wide Semantic Mail you could replace all the
> vertical sectors and walled gardens of collaborating individuals with
> infostructures based on appropriate schemas.  Perhaps even questions of
> confidentiality and membership restriction might be facilitated.
> We wouldn’t have to worry about the wisdom of dividing up the RDF list
> interest and logic or debate the pros and cons of a SW list.  We would no
> longer have to sort through all those hundreds of mails on our desktops
> rather follow the flow of ideas as interpreted and presented by parsers
> applications of our choosing.
> The beholder could chose between interest-group oreintated (vertical) or
> topic orientated (horizontal) collaboration.  The email could merge with
> web page.
> What does our present “schema” look like today and how is it used?
> We have the list-name, the area of collaboration in the form of an email
> address
> Ex:
> The same tag doubles as a (hidden) distribution list
> Eventual CC:s and BCC:s
> Sender
> Posting date
> Subject
> Message content
> Links embedded in message content
> Eventual Attachments
> Signatures
> We also have an informal method of quoting each other
> What is missing to create semantic mail?
> 1.  Well if we replace the addressee with signifiying that
> mail was wwsm hunky-dory and to be considered as part of the big picture,
> would have to add a tag for the core list name ex. – RDF logic.   You
> omit this if their was no “group” involved, but in a cross over period
> would ensure that wwsMail could be added to legacy mailing lists.
> 2. We should formalise our way of quoting.  Of course that can be done
> by linking to the list archives and the mail being quoted, but very few
> submitters do it.  As I see it, this is because it is such an extra effort
> to always have to check out the archive URL of a particular email.  BTW
> could be alleviated today if mail was stamped with its archive URL.
> 3. Formalise the identification of any person being quoted.  Again this is
> informally done today by checking the email address of previous emails but
> that would not suffice on a larger stage.
> 4. Formalise thread subjects within the contents of the email.  Today only
> the Subject at the head of the email is machine-readable.
> 5. Here are just some element suggestions which could keep RDFers occupied
> in nit-picking.
> a) refutationOf
> b) affirmationOf
> c) equivalenceTo
> d) question
> e) answer
> f) selfPromotion
> g) advertisement
> h) proposal
> I would be prepared to offer 10 hours of my short life on this if anybody
> else was interested.  Perhaps an unofficial BOF in San Diego?  There might
> be some tie-ins with WebDav and XML-mail as well.

Received on Tuesday, 7 November 2000 11:17:54 UTC