Sharing Information

Sharing Information --- ?RonGoldman 16 Jan 2002

. . . when we talk with others we often need to exchange more than just a simple message.

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There's more to our lives than what we talk and write to each other.

When we communicate with each other we often need to refer to existing documents, photographs, computer files, voice messages, links, etc. One way we do this is by sharing them with the recipient of our message. Most modern email clients allow a message to include any computer file as an attachment. Assuming the recipient has the appropriate program, they can then view the document.

According to recent research email is now the main means of document exchange. ["E-mail as Habitat: An Exploration of Embedded Personal Information Management" by Nicolas Ducheneaut and Victoria Bellotti, in interactions, Vol. VIII.5, September + October 2001]

Sometimes only a single line of text is required to provide a pointer to the actual information, as with a URL for a web page. Other times we need to share many large files that make up a document.

The information we are sharing may be limited to the message, such as an accompanying picture from our vacation. Or it may be information that the receiver will need to file away to work on later, such as a paper being written in collaboration with the sender.


Make it easy for people to include non-textual information with their messages. Let them integrate it as part of the message or keep it separate as an attachment. Make it easy for the receiver of a message with attachments to view and store them away.

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The information we exchange is often in formats that our email client will not understand so it is important that the appropriate application to display the information be able to work with our email client---GoodIntegrationWithOtherTools. To be sure that the recipient has some program that they can use to view the attachment try to use common file formats rather than proprietary ones---RosettaStone.

Sending large files is fine for people on high bandwidth connections, but sometimes we use low-speed lines and it is difficult to receive our messages. So it is important that our email clients be both ?TimeSensitiveAndLocationSensitive.

Receiving files opens the door to viruses and malicious programs so be sure to keep us Safe (SafeToUse) by limiting what actions happen automatically when mail is received. E.g. don't allow incoming programs to run without explicit permission from the recipient.


Last edited December 24, 2002
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