RE: Semantic mail

>Hey, Pat, we get your point. I concur that email <content> really should not
>be consider a candidate for semantic tagging. This is for exactly the
>reasons you (so strongly point out) below relating to privacy. It is,
>however, acceptable to semantically tag the metadata associated with emails.
>To a certain degree, emails carry metadata tagging already relating to date,
>creator, destination, route, etc. If this were converted to an RDF-esque
>format, we could use these tags to search information about a person, the
>route the email took, etc. Here the distinction between semantically tagging
>email <content> and email <headers> should be noted.

But wait a second: why do you assume that people would want 
information about them and the routes taken by their email (etc.) to 
be made public and tagged for easy access? I certainly do not, and I 
am immediately suspicious of the motives of anyone who wants to find 
such things out. Why should this kind of information be thought of as 
automatically public domain? (I know it is, in fact, but this is a 
*problem* with email, not a feature.)

>A side thought: authors of semantically tagged emails should be given the
>ability to easily reference parts of the <content> of their mails, if they
>feel it would help the recipient or bolster a point they are making (much
>the same way as including references to webpages, etc.).

Of course one should be free to include arbitrary content in ones 
email and to make it as publicly accessible as one wishes. But one 
should also be free to not do this. What I find startling (and 
alarming) is the apparently widespread assumption that sending an 
email is just like posting a web page, an assumption which completely 
ignores the rather fundamental distinction between private and public 
communication, treating the internet as a kind of world-wide Hyde 
Park Corner. For example, I sometimes send things like referee 
reports and recommendations for promotion decisions by email. I 
recently send an email offering personal condolences to a friend on 
the death of his wife. Some of us live real lives, independently of 
the bloody Web, and we need to be able to live them in a normal and 
dignified fashion.

End of flame by me on this topic. I will reply offline in future.


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Received on Friday, 10 November 2000 07:39:23 UTC