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Re: V.A. Shiva Ayyadurai: Inventor of e-mail honored by Smithsonian

2012-02-28 20:09:40

On 2/28/2012 8:21 AM, Ned Freed wrote:
> In short, this is an implementation quality issue. The MUA I'm using to
> enter this messages handles all of this correctly.

I'll make clear what I implied.  I think this is deeper than an implementation
quality issue.

We do not have a "protocol" specification for MUA-MUA (nevermind MUA/MSA, etc.)
behavior involving BCC.

Quite true, but neither do have have a specifications for a lot of other
MUA-MUA behavior. Heck, we don't even have a clear specification for replies
and forwards - yes, RFC 5322 talks about it some, and even tries to break it
down into some specific use-cases, but falls far short of specifying the
specifics of how it is supposed to work.

More generally, we do not have a clear model and technical details for group
communication with email.

True as well, but as it happens there is a pretty clear and simple model for
the semantics that attach to bcc. We didn't come up with it - in fact it goes
all the way back to typewriters and hand manipulation of copies and the carbons
between them - but it's a model nevertheless. And many if not most of the
technical details of how you implement this stuff follow directly from this

Of course this is no reason not to write this stuff down, if for no other
reason that to spare new implementors the pain of working it out for
themselves - and possibly working it out incorrectly.

We have tidbits of mechanism.  They variously work and don't.  But we haven't
defined a model and its details to form a solid, stable technical protocol basis
for extended, group exchanges.

And I personally am dubious we could get consensus on one if we tried.

Which makes the relatively high level of utility we get out of the current
system for such communication modes pretty impressive...



P.S. It's actually kind of fascinating how the implementation specifics of
email have determined which parts of the venerable "office memorandum" model
and structure we have kept intact, which ones we've discarded, and which ones
we've moved around. For example, the lack of a structured footer combined with
the relative ease of adding additional header fields caused the old
"auther-initials:typist-initials" convention to morph (or if you prefer, be
replaced by) our current From:/Sender: mechanism.