Wednesday, May 17, 2006

How to Stop Littering on the Information Superhighway

I find it funny, amusing, interesting, no, SAD that in the software development business we spend billions of dollars trying to make computers communicate effectively when we as humans can't even communicate effectively.

I have two email programs I like, Outlook and Outlook Express. The most compelling feature in Outlook to me is Rules and Alerts. I find it very flexible and intuitive to organize my email using this feature. I like Outlook Express because it's light and has an integrated UseNet news reader. If there was an email application that was as light as Outlook Express, had an integrated news reader and the Rules and Alerts feature of Outlook, I'd be exercising my email kung fu like nobody's business! However, there are some features I haven't seen in any email program and I'm really inclined to design, patent, develop and GIVE THEM AWAY FOR FREE. I'll call them the Articulator, the Bouncer and Molasses.

The concept behind the Articulator is simple. It would prevent emails from being sent when the content within the email is likely to be unclear to the recipients. It would force the writer to articulate his or her thoughts in a meaningful way so the email doesn't wind up costing the sender or the company money for what is essentially wasted bandwidth.

The Bouncer is similar to the Articulator but kicks in when emails arrive. Whenever you receive an email from a user who's in your address book but doesn't use the Articulator, the Bouncer will check the content of the email to ensure the message is clear. If the email fails the check, the Bouncer will reject the email, send a reply to the sender and include a convenient link to download the Articulator. Gone are the days when you receive an email like this:

Date: May 15th, 2006 13:07 GMT
From: John Doe
To: Throckmorten Von Schlept
Subject: Don't care

You fix bug now

Molasses handles the emotions of the email. What it does is intercepts your outgoing email when you click Send. Then it sits on it for a few hours or a day, depending on the emotions reflected in the email. Finally, it sends the email back to you for review, so you can tone down the email before really sending it.

The objective of this blog entry is to point out the sad state of affairs. Because we as humans cannot communicate effectively, I (as well as others) are considering software that will help us do so. Who knows? Maybe some day we'll be so good communicating with computers that we can teach them to teach us how to communicate.