Introduction: Everyone claims they get too much email. We'll cover ways to manage your messages that can handle more messages, and also examine how to interpret error messages that you receive.
Problems: I get hundreds of messages a day but don't want to spend hours reading through my email. I get cryptic or poorly worded error messages saying that my mail wasn't delivered or the sender not found.
Standards: More mailbox management functions included in email client software, such as copying messages into separate folders and applying filtering criteria as messages are received. Better error handling by email clients that can interpret error reports.
Solutions: Better header management, such as Outlook Express preview feature that shows the first few lines of the message body. OE can also automatically add recipient addresses to your address book. Understanding that certain error messages are more serious than others: "user not found" vs. "host not available" can mean the difference between no known address and a temporary Internet routing error.
Future: Feature bloat for email clients will continue, and will include
ways to handle error resolution.
This chapter can be found at Meckler's Internet.com site.
Introduction: Email is the best example of "pushing" or publishing information to a targeted audience. You can also integrate email into other desktop applications such as schedulers and electronic address books.
Problems: I want to set up a meeting with three other co-workers but don't want to spend time on the phone checking their schedules. I want to send a message to a group but don't want to always remember their individual email addresses.
Standards: More email functions included in other desktop applications, such as the ability to send email from within a word processor or the ability to schedule a meeting using email as the means to notify participants. Better address-list management features included in email clients or as separate software programs.
Solutions: Applications such as Word and PowerPoint that make use of email as a transport for sending documents. Integration of address books or databases into email clients to manage distribution lists.
Future: The notion of a separate "push client" will gradually fade,
to be replaced by email-enhanced list management products. Other applications
will have increasing and better access to the message store on the desktop.
Introduction: As concerns for privacy mount, sending and receiving secure email becomes more important. Also, multiple email mailboxes becomes important to handle work/home needs or different projects.
Problems: I want to send an encrypted message and make sure that the recipient can authenticate my identity. I want to set up and maintain separate email identities for different correspondents or different purposes.
Standards: Email clients with "personalities" to maintain different identities. Encryption software will become more popular, including add-on modules for email clients.
Solutions: Netscape Mail and Eudora have added the ability to handle multiple mailboxes. PGP plug-ins for these products enable encrypted mail.
Future: Better integration of encryption modules into the email client.
Introduction: Slow/transient connectivity makes it harder for people to get remote access to their email accounts. And an increasing use of on-line customer-service with special email identities such as "firstname.lastname@example.org" or "email@example.com" and automatic filtering/routing based on content.
Problems: Dial-up access and authentication becomes an issue for remote users. Being able to filter messages for download based on size, topic and originator to prioritize them. Being able to apply automation to incoming messages to filter them to various destinations.
Standards: Virtual Private Networks that create an encrypted path between client and server across the public Internet. POP/IMAP that allow selected downloads and support various authentication schemes such as one-time passwords, or using strong cryptography such as SSH.
Solutions: Various VPN gear (routers, clients, etc.), Various IMAP servers, auto responders, filters, content routers.
Future: True mobility: the ability to use one's laptop no matter wherever
it is located and however it is connected. True content routing is that
programs will be able to examine messages and understand how manipulate
them based on past behavior.
Introduction: Typically, the way we find out about email addresses is either from a printed business card or by calling someone on the phone. I also want to send messages to a variety of non-email systems such as fax machines or pagers.
Problems: Non-uniform addressing means that you usually can't guess someone's address or domain name. The majority of non-email service providers use poorly implemented email gateways.
Standards: LDAP, Whois, web engines such as Four11.com to search for addresses.
Solutions: These protocols will be supported in client software such as OE/NN/QE. Jfax, paging services as ways to gateway across non-email systems. Jfax provides a uniform interface to received faxes.
Future: Uniform directories and common agreements on how things are
named and searched. Native Internet gateways replacing the poorly-designed
Introduction: Information sharing at the both group and corporate levels is often difficult -- groups can't read each other's attachments and formatted messages. Similarly, companies may have different levels of Internet support and so find it difficult to share documents easily.
Problems: Fear of viruses makes people afraid of opening email attachments. Sometimes .EXEs are sent instead of data files, heightening the problem. A lack of pre-existing agreed-upon standards for applications and product versions make it difficult to know if someone can read what you send them.
Standards: A gradual evolution from MIME-typed encoding to standalone viewers or helper applications to browser plug-ins and finally to specialized Java applets. But it still isn't always easy to open those attachments.
Solutions: Extensibility and security models for email and browser clients such as OE/NN/QE. Increasing functionality for firewalls to filter out problems.
Future: My user agent knows and understands the capabilities of recipients'
user agents. "100 % pure Internet" -- ultimately all the legacy stuff
goes away and Internet protocols are used to exchange data.