[unrev-II] Links not quotes of messages & subject lines

From: Grant Bowman (grant@suse.com)
Date: Sun Nov 26 2000 - 20:17:13 PST

  • Next message: Grant Bowman: "Re: [unrev-II] Listening to Doug, Proposal"

    Hi Eugene,

    I want to offer an example of my configuration and why linking to
    messages right now isn't ideal for me yet. I hope this helps to
    identify and work on the related issues going forward.

    Basically, we need to integrate the email browser with a url browser.
    Logically approaching this, a mail browser is just a specialized
    browser that handles one type of content. A url browser handles many
    types of content like http, ftp and others. Why is it we need a special
    tool for email?


    * Eugene Kim <eekim@eekim.com> [001126 16:01]:
    > [...]
    > Third, link to messages rather than quote them. This is one that Doug is
    > constantly promoting, and one that is nontrivial to do with the tools we
    > have at our disposal. It's one of those areas that immediately arises as
    > a necessary tool feature. Not surprisingly, the only two people who seem
    > to practice this -- Doug and Rod -- are people who have tools that support
    > this feature by providing granular addressability and some linking
    > capability.

    You know, I don't know where to link to instead of quoting this...
    I put the link to your previous message above, but I can't like to a
    particular paragraph. Should we use the egroups links as a conconical
    source? I wish I could sort it by author like I can in my email client.
    Do we need one canonical source? If the canonical source moves, will I
    lose functionality?

    Maybe we could write our own commentary and post it to our own web sites
    like Rod does? There is certainly the issue of software, but also of
    the service/implementation not going anywhere. The need for reliability
    and being able to read email is high. Email is the Internet's killer
    app, which an average volume of 500 times that of web traffic. I found
    that number very interesting from a previous link someone posted. I
    don't know what the best answer is.

    If we all had websites linking to and fro -without- new tools would it
    be easier or more difficult to follow the conversation compared to
    quoting in messages?

    Without using a mailer that already has fine-grained links, I don't feel
    it's acceptable. The web/url browser and email client need to be used
    in a more seamless environment than is typically available.

    An example from personal experience: I use the email client mutt
    running on a seperate machine, and a browser Netscape running locally.
    I telnet to this seperate machine to read my mail. Due to the way the IS
    configuration has changed, this is the best way to do it. Going back
    and forth between url browser (http, ftp, whatever) can be a real pain.
    I didn't have a way to automate mutt telling netscape (in my case lynx
    or w3m) to start a browser from within an email. Also any bookmarks set
    in lynx are lost when I go back to netscape. Next, when I am done
    browsing and without fine-grained links, it's difficult to take the
    content from there and save this to an email I want to write since I
    quit from one program to enter another.

    Should I change my tools and habits to evolve? Yes. What do I change

    Well, I found a tool called urlview for mutt. I just now took the time
    to download, compile, install and test it. It's still clunky, but it
    works better than no connection between mutt and a browser at all. It
    allows URLs within mutt viewed email messages to launch a web browser.

    <story> of the install

    Unfortunately, this took some persistence. I tried the URL
    provided in Mutt's help file, ftp://ftp.cs.hmc.edu/pub/me/, but the DNS
    didn't resolve, so the site doesn't seem to exist. I checked mutt.org's
    site, bingo, ftp://ftp.mutt.org/pub/mutt/contrib/ contains
    urlview-0.9.tar.gz. After downloading and unpacking, there is even an
    install script specifically for SuSE. I was pleasantly surprised.
    Compiling it for both the machine I read email on and my own machine
    (since they both use different versions of some libraries), installing
    it, testing it out, seems to work ok.

    Now, would I have cared much if I were a normal user that didn't want to
    install & configure files and binaries? I doubt it. I didn't want to
    take the time just now even if I know how to do it, but I am glad I did.
    It makes for a decent story of what and how long it takes to modify
    tools to collaborate better.


    > [...]
    > Fourth, change the subject lines of e-mail to reflect the content of the
    > message, not the title of the thread. Lack of foresight has rendered the
    > subject header irrelevant. Most subject lines tell me nothing except the
    > subject of the first message in the thread and the fact that a message is
    > part of a thread. This latter feature is mostly unnecessary today, as
    > decent mail clients will use the In-Reply-To header.

    I have found it difficult to follow some threads on mail lists
    because a few people's clients don't use In-Reply-To, causing choppy
    threads. My solution is to revert back to subject, author and/or date
    sorting. One of the four usually gets me what I want. Perhaps if I had
    the time and I felt it important enough I would edit every email that
    caused me this problem and add in the In-Reply-To header myself.

    In the past while (two months or so) I have had trouble keeping up with
    the latest on OHS lists. Since I have many unread messages, usually I
    just use a command that gives me any unread messages within the mail
    list. This doesn't do me much good if I haven't kept up. This is an
    issue that might be solved with tagging or a command to show just new
    messages to the list vs. previously unseen/unread messages.

    Another annoyance:

    I also have some mail lists that always have the same few messages on
    the bottom. They are always there because the date fields in them are
    not correct. I guess I should just edit them in the files and put in an
    extra X-header if I want to save the original data as a comment.

    My impression is that while all of these things are possible, the
    tradeoff between time and the difficulties often weighs on the side of
    not doing it because support levels and standard expectations are low.

    > [...]
    > These are just a few suggestions off the top of my head. I would
    > definitely like to see those interested in practicing good KM attempt to
    > incorporate some of these suggestions. I'd also love to see comments on
    > the above as well as new suggestions for practicing KM using existing
    > tools.
    > [... signatures omitted ...]

    I hope this is along the lines of what you were thinking of.

    -- Grant Bowman                                   grant@suse.com
    -- SuSE                                    +1-510-628-3380 x5027
    -- 580 Second Street, Suite 210              fax +1-510-628-3381
    -- Oakland, CA  94607                        http://www.suse.com

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