Tuesday, September 05, 2006

[AoyW] Why Email Persists: It's P2P

"Anne 2.0" writes that email persists despite numerous attepts to replace it over many years because it is "good enough". Benefits she points to are: 1) Interoperability 2) Personalized Organization 3) Easy access control 4) Single point of information access. All good points, as are those that she enumerates where email fails.

However, there is a fundamental difference between email and all the mechanisms that have been proposed to obsolete it: Email is peer-to-peer. Everything else is server-centered. Email uses servers, true, but they merely provide relay service or secondary storage. The email application sees a field of peers, identified by unique addresses, and reachable via the nearest SMTP service.

What hasn't been tried is applying the user-centric P2P approach of email to writing and content-creation apps, which are the fundamental tools of the knowledge worker. Isn't P2P messaging really a feature of these apps, rather than a disconnected app itself?

Were a P2P wiki framework to emerge, enabling private wikis distributed among teams of collaborators, with commentary or chat embedded on any page, would the email client still persist as the primary—and frustrating—tool that it is today?

4 Comments:

At Tuesday, September 05, 2006 2:34:00 PM, Blogger Tim said...

As I've looked for a collaborative writing tool what seems always missing, and keeps me going back to a WP and email is the facility to comment. Writerly seems to be the exception...

 
At Wednesday, September 27, 2006 11:43:00 PM, Anonymous Sumanth said...

Liam,
When you have a slot open, perhaps you can take a look at a solution that we have built - Live Documents - which is attempting exactly this.

It essentially converts every Word/Excel document to a wiki-like framework without requiring a central server and enables you to have contextual conversations around each document within the productivity tool environment.
Cheers,
Sumanth

 
At Thursday, June 07, 2007 12:29:00 AM, Blogger Hengist said...

"Obsolete" is an adjective, not a verb. One should therefore use something on the lines of "...to render it obsolete" or "...to make it obsolete..."

 
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