Sunday, August 7, 2011

So I Came Up With This Really Great Idea

Not too long ago, Gabor came up with an idea - href="http://blog.gaborcselle.com/2010/02/how-to-replace-imap.html">Throw out IMAP.  As anyone
that has ever had to fiddle with email settings should know, IMAP is an email transfer protocol.  It allows
a client to communicate with a server and keep email data synchronized between the two.  It was a good idea
for its time (1994), but now its old and is no longer as well suited to email tasks as it should be.

Think
about it.  How much has email changed in the last twenty years?  Not a lot, if any.  The most revolutionary
features are GMail's labels and Gmail/Outlook's server-side email rules/filter settings.  To me, this is
ridiculous.  I was born in 1991, played around on the internet when it was on dialup, and had a free Juno
account when I was old enough.

Since then I'd moved through Yahoo, Hotmail, and finally
rested on Gmail.  But all-in-all, everything is still pretty much the same.  It was because of this that
Gabor's idea to scrap IMAP really intrigued me.  I wanted this.
 Google and Microsoft had both come up with newer, proprietary synchronization standards, and creating a
new, open protocol would be the way to usher in a new age of compatibility and extensible feature sets.

Since
this initial bit of intrigue, I've spent some time working on protocol documentation whenever I can get a
bit motivated and have some spare time to do so.  I continue to push my creativity and find new things to
throw in to the protocol, ideas that wouldn't have to be there when the first part hits, but that its
extensibility would make possible.  Ideas such as receiving push notifications from web services, that could
also be synced to mobile devices through the protocol, or using OpenID as a base and creating a new
single-login/password system that uses your email address., or even ideas such as being able to query an
email server for a person's contact information, and store/update it in a syncable address book.

Once
we leave the defining bounds of IMAP and proprietary protocols like Exchange, we can really start work on
building something terrific that would allow a flood of innovation that email has never seen before.

Unfortunately,
my voice is small - and is very largely unheard.  I can't even get Gabor, the original creator of this idea
to @mention me on twitter regarding it anymore, and so I've been stuck working on it by myself.

So
yes, this is a call to action, and I do so hope that you'll oblige me.  I need help
revolutionizing email
.  I can't do it all on my own, and the protocol being open is the
important part.  I need other people's ideas, not just my own.  I need their thoughts and their knowledge.
 I'm only a college student after all, and as much as I'd like to do this all by myself and use it as my
claim to fame - I'd much rather just be a person that helped start and organize it and get things moving.

So
please, join me in discussing my ideas, submitting your own, and if you feel like it even work on defining
the protocol!

Please
join the discussion on 'MSAP' at Google Groups
.

Thank you for your time, and
I look forward to hearing your thoughts and ideas.

12 comments:

  1. its there and we call it wave protocol. so much for ignorance.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Wave was a new system for discussions, and was limited to that.  Its extensible was
    only within the messages themselves and what they were used for.  Wave and its protocol were more of a
    product.

    One that could be implemented using the theoretical MSAP protocol.  The MSAP
    protocol that I'd like to design is more focused on keeping things in Sync, and the wave of innovation I'm
    talking about refers mostly to clients and services that use that synchronized data.

    Successful
    Troll is Successful?

    ReplyDelete
  3. Bucket of Cold WaterAugust 7, 2011 at 4:00 AM

    Wait, so, basically you bring nothing. Pfff, learn man - it doesn't work that way. You
    have to start by offering something, you can't just sit there /wanting/.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Or you could look and see that email is on a rapid decline, replaced by communication
    on social sites, and realize that it's fruitless to try and revolutionize 40 year old technology.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Wave is very extensible and what is a protocol if not the exchange of messages? ...
    build upon proven stuff and you will succeed. IMAP has lots of extensions and you can make your own ... or
    use existing technology. Your proposed features are all already implemented somewhere, no need to invent the
    wheel twice.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Ah, so adding a RESTful interface and sprinkling webification pixie dust will solve all
    of the issues.

    Good luck with that.

    ReplyDelete
  7. I think a lot of people focus on protocols when they try to change the way how people
    use technology but it's about the user experience instead. If you want to make a change to how people
    exchange data and communicate, think about how that experience is broken and then decide on whether the
    protocol is wrong. Also, email (for which IMAP is a transfer protocol) is a lot older (70s). Tough to tell
    if you don't like IMAP or email though.

    ReplyDelete
  8. An idea is nearly irrelevant. What matters is 1:Who are the clients? 2:Why will they
    buy this? 3:Who will work on it? 4:What are the risks?

    ReplyDelete
  9. Dropping a decentralised technology for an inferior centralised one, because "that's
    what people are using nowadays," seems pretty fatalistic.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Wave is one of the most extensible systems ever made, it just never got much of an
    opportunity to get popular for its core features, so the extensibility never got much play. In fact, it made
    server development more complicated, slowing down third party development, which means it may have had an
    infinitesimal amount of responsibility in the death of Wave. Sometimes it's better to do one thing very well
    than all things adequately.

    ReplyDelete
  11. The User Experience *is* important, but its also important to have a sturdy foundation
    under it.  This is what I aim to achieve.

    ReplyDelete
  12. I discuss my ideas for critiques and advise.  Simply saying "you can't just want" isn't
    enough to help an idea grow.

    If I did this all by myself, how many use cases would be
    left out and might involve a massive change to the underlying protocol?

    Stating a
    desire shows that there IS a desire.  Stating that you want to do something about it and asking for help -
    why is that frowned upon?

    ReplyDelete