Great Circle Associates List-Managers
(June 1998)

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Subject: Re: Finding A Listowner
From: Bill Bogstad <bogstad @ pobox . com>
Date: Thu, 11 Jun 1998 22:16:28 -0400
To: Chuq Von Rospach <chuqui @ plaidworks . com>
Cc: List-Managers @ GreatCircle . COM
In-reply-to: Your message of "Thu, 11 Jun 1998 17:28:01 PDT." <v04011717b1a626096787 @ [207 . 167 . 80 . 70]>

Chuq wrote:
>I find it serves a major purpose -- the purpose being that we stop
>thinking in terms of fitting information into a transport layer, and
>start making information available the way the user wants it. If that's
>email, great. If it's web, great. If that's NNTP, great. The point is,
>stop thinking of e-mail as an entity unto itself, and start realizing
>it's just one way to communicate. Some ways it's the better way, some
>ways it's not. but more important, set things up so that the user gets
>the info the way the user wants the info.

So let's examine some of the dimensions in which a human communications
technology might vary:

typical # of content creators vs. # of content viewers
control of distribution
sensory modality & encoding
	sound - voice/music
	visual - graphics & pictures (static or moving)/text
spontaneous access vs. subscription service
real-time vs. delayed
permanent vs. ephemeral
index/search friendliness

Some technologies to consider:

Telephone calls, Telegrams, CDs/records/tapes, Video Cassettes, Books,
Magazines, Postal letters, Email, Email lists, Cable Television,
Broadcast Television, HTTP/HTML, NNTP(Usenet), 'talk' sessions, 'chat' rooms

	Although you could argue the point about where these technologies sit
in each of those dimensions, they have all acquired certain expected
characteristics.  Telephone calls are assummed to be ephemeral.  There are
even legal jurisdictions where making them permanent (recording them) is
illegal without the permission of all (both) parties.  Those characteristics
also affect the tone of the way people use them.  Magazines and Books have
very similar characteristics, but I would argue that Magazines are
significantly more ephemeral then Books.  I think the result is that Books are
(on average) 'weightier' then Magazines.

	Email lists and USENET groups also share similar characteristics.  The
differences are that Email lists are subscription services while USENET
invites spontanous access and Email lists are controllable while USENET groups
are open.  In some ways, I WANT the Email lists that I access to be 'hard' to
get to.  This (on average) keeps the traffic levels down and restricts them to
people who are seriously interested in the topic.  USENET, on the other hand,
makes it easy for anyone to quickly enter the conversation and then leave it.
I like USENET as well, it lets me (ask questions/see the opinions) of large
groups of people on a topic which I might not want to do all the time.  The
(typically) better data handling capabilities of USENET software also makes it
easier to find what I'm looking for in the fast flow of traffic.  Putting the
contents of an Email list on a web site and providing a form where I could
send messages to the list would turn Email into a pale imitation of USENET.
Unless the web site maintainer adds all of the functionality of USENET
software, I'll see all of problems of USENET without the advantages.

	Before changing one of the dimensions of a system consider what the
subtle effects might be on how people will use it.  I don't think it's obvious
and would suggest doing this by comparing paired technologies that only vary
in that dimension.

				Bill Bogstad
				bogstad @
 pobox .

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