Alternative to mail, blogging, micro-blogging, multi-facets publishing, chatting, etc.

So after that yesterday post about an open protocol that could cover all of our social needs while preserving privacy, I’ve thought a lot. One thing that stroke me is how much the concept of blogging/publishing/chatting is the opposite of how the mail system is made. This brings me to some interesting ideas (or not, you tell me)

The internet mail is a very good image of the real mail system : you’ve got

  • post offices that collect departing messages near you (SMTP),
  • mail agents that carry the messages from post offices to post offices (until it reaches the post office near the receiver)
  • and finally mailboxes that stores the messages for whom you’re the receiver. It’s a model based on minimizing the distances, and that’s probably not the best model for the internet (even though it has some good

Now how would it work if emails where following the publishing way of sharing information : S wants to send a message to R, so S publish it on its server (which also serves for blogging, sharing photos with family, etc.). S is the only one on earth that can talk to its server, When the server receives the publication, it contacts R’s server, telling him that there’s a message from S for him. During the short contact, serverS sends a key to serverR that will serve to retrieve the content of the message. There is no reason that serverR would really want to retrieve the message, only when R goes online will she see that S has sent her a message, so she might decide to download it (or it may be done automatically if R knows S and the message is small enough). The advantages :

  • S can discard its message if R hasn’t read it
  • No duplication of data (even when sending a mail to many people)
  • SPAMMING is be much harder
  • Adding/removing trusted sources would be in control of the user, no need to write rules to send undesired mails to trash
  • Side effect : your social network IS your set of trusted sources,
  • Double side effect : every publishing could be advertised in the same way (to your subscribers/followers, for instance)

The drawbacks

  • How R receives the message would depend on serverS’ ping and bandwidth, so the quality of your email service would actually impact your receivers, not you… (that may be a good thing actually)
  • A lot of private/public keys and symmetric keys. I don’t see this as a real drawback either
  • You complete…

So, could we

  • Get rid of SPAM ?
  • Have an open, privacy respecting, distributed, secure social networking system ?
  • Have email service providers that would compete for the quality of service, not for keeping their customers in prison ?

Sure we could :)

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