Communication Door

Communication Door --- JoshuaKerievsky 03 Jan 2002

. . . our communications software will not fully serve our needs---PrivacyGradient, InterruptionGradient---until it knows how to distinguish messages we care about from messages we don't. This is particularly true of advertisements, which are often cast as a StylizedLetter.

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Junk email distracts and disgusts us, delays us from doing our work and is delivered to some of us on a daily or hourly basis. Yet most email software provides little to no defence from it.

Junk email is on the rise. 30 messages arrived in Joe's in-box the other day. 28 of them were junk emails, 2 of them were not. The Junk emails are particularly problematic because they are stylized (StylizedLetter) and often contain repulsive or highly distracting content. So not only do people have to waste time downloading junk email, they also have to interact with it as they routinely delete it.

If we want our software to really serve our needs, we need it to protect us from such junk. Yet the protection we need must be smart enough to filter out junk, while letting new individuals reach us.

This isn't as hard to do as it may seem. First, our communications software can easily know with whom we regularly interact. With that knowledge, it can easily and automatically filter messages from known entities and unknown entities into different in-boxes. That would make for an improvement, but it would still leave us with the burden of having to check the unknown-person in-box to see if it contains junk or actual messages from new people or groups about whom we care.

What we need is some way to distinguish junk messages from genuine messages, and traditional filters aren't the answer. The solution is to automate this process as much as possible and rely on human intelligence for the rest.


Create a door in communication software that functions like a real door: granting access to those who have a key or know a particular kind of knock, and not granting access to anyone else. When an email from a stranger is received, automatically reply with a question, and if the sender returns a suitable response to the question, then open the communication door to them. Also make it possible to take away someone's ability to enter your communication door.

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Ideally, a Communication Door could function on a server, so that individuals would not need to download possible junk emails. One would want their Communication Door to be present, regardless of what machine they are on (UniversalAccess).

The Communication Door must understand that messages from strangers who have joined a known list are ok to download (SmallWorkGroupsComeAndGo), but the list itself may also need a Communication Door to prevent being overrun by junk.


Last edited December 28, 2002
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