Go Away

Go Away --- RichardGabriel 27 Nov 2001

. . . you are adding features to complete AwarenessOfPresence in order to make the context of textual communications humane. . .

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Sometimes our work requires deep concentration and quiet, or perhaps a planned and habitual cacophony, but not unplanned, unexpected, and unwelcome interruptions. Our trains of thought cannot stand a distraction or the nature of a textual communication would interfere with some other process we are engaging.

In some circumstances it would seem necessary to even stem the tide of knowing that a communication is desired from everyone or from a selected set of people or groups. Nevertheless, perhaps the work that requires our attention is communicating textually-composing, thinking, reflecting-possibly it is a SlowLetter we are writing. Some attack this problem with filters for individuals or by temporarily unsubscribing from a mailing list for a few hours, a few days, or a few weeks because the nature of the list is too maddening or distracting. But we do not or cannot disconnect entirely. And we do not want to lose those communications-when we are ready we want to see them.


Create a simple means to tell the textual communication system that its user wants part of the world trying to communicate to go away. The part could be an individual, a set of individuals, a group, or any sort of convenient way for a person to describe who is to be kept away. Create a mechanism whereby the user of the system can use it during such a period. Create a simple mechanism for seeing and interacting with those textual communications later.

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In such a mode, a textual communication system might queue up incoming messages but not even display that they have arrived, or perhaps with a very small visual-only cue nearly out of sight. This of course would need to be able to be turned off. Filters and other programming-based mechanisms might be too hard for some people, but it might not be feasible to go as far as a simple example/negative-example learning system. This part of the system should not depend on the cooperation of a distant server.

Old News (was Go Away) --- ?RonGoldman 19 Dec 2001

. . . when we specify an InterruptionGradient we also need to indicate what to do with pending messages.

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Messages have a time value. No one wants to be bothered with old news.

When we are busy, we might withdraw from the world to avoid interruptions and distractions. When we emerge later and return to the world we do not want to be overwhelmed with all that elapsed in our absence.

Everyday the newspaper, letters and magazines arrive at our door. Before we go on a trip we need to cancel delivery of the paper or we will come home to a pile of old newspapers, full of old news that we are not interested in.

Likewise in our electronic world: when we are busy or away, incoming messages pile up, demanding our attention when we return. Just as we cancel the newspaper, so we would like to be able to cancel our subscription to various mailing lists.

While we are away, our email program might unsubscribe us from whatever mailing lists we specify and then when we return, resubscribe us. Alternatively it might just throw away any messages received from those lists while we are away. Maybe it would just keep any messages received in the last day and discard older ones.

As part of our normal routine we might want our software to automatically discard old, unread messages from mailing lists rather than have them cluttering up our in boxes. But we also must be able to mark messages we want to keep. Therefore,

Recognize that messages have a time value and allow us to specify to our software what constitutes old news so it knows not to bother us with it.

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Sometimes we do care about old news, so we need to be able to retrieve messages that might have been discarded---KeepArchives.


Last edited December 24, 2002
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