Low Overhead Messages

Low Overhead Messages --- RichardGabriel 3 Dec 2001

. . . you are building a textual electronic communication system for very non-expert computer people . . .

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You want your users to be able to compose and send a message without having to work too hard at the mechanics of sending a message. The goal of a user is to communicate with another person or group not with the computer.

Computer-based communication is too hard to understand for no benefit to a person. Once a person is in the mood to send some sort of message, he or she is not in the mood to deal with the mechanics of the software. Yet, the mechanics need to be dealt with in order to make the communication possible.


Build a system that fills in as much as possible of the mechanics of the message. The header for a message should be as completely filled out as possible from the message being responded to. Addressing to new people might be through auto-completion from the database consisting of all received and sent messages as well as an address book. Responses to messages should include the original message in a form convenient to use and modify. Signatures should be filled in automatically. Make it easy to respond to the sender and all recipients of a message or just to the sender. Making forwarding email effortless by constructing all but the recipients' names.

Rather than making the person go to the computer, make the computer go to the person. A lot of the work of sending a message can be automated, so automate it. The letter writer should rarely if ever have to deal with issues surrounding the network connections.

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This pattern can be assisted by IntelligentFormLetters and possibly SharingFeelings. ?QuickChat might be related since it deals with switching modes, which is a form of mechanics hiding.


Last edited December 24, 2002
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