Linked by Thom Holwerda on Thu 12th Apr 2012 08:59 UTC
Internet & Networking I would honestly serve at the altar of the person that did this. Keep the debugging information, but for the love of god, make your email client do something pretty and useful with it.
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saso
Member since:
2007-04-18

Alfman,

you don't need to address me by name (though I appreciate), the comments system already tells me which post you are replying to ;-)

Unless I'm mistaken, he doesn't mean to replace SMTP with another SMTP like infrastructure, but to completely rethink email messaging as a peer to peer content distribution system with support for interpersonal messaging. Only the manifest would be routed through the mail network, but the attachments would be P2P.


Try as a might, but I can't seem to find any hint of what you're describing in Thom's original comment. Seems like what he meant was very much open to the imagination of the reader (that is not to say that he doesn't have a clear picture himself, only that he didn't specify it).

People will continue to use legacy jargon such as "I've attached a large file to the email I sent you, you should get it soon".

Under the hood, the recipient client might be notified of a new message and the client could start downloading individual attachments like in bittorrent. Then, and only if it wants to, the receiving end could download the large media files directly from the sender.

This would make it far more efficient than traditional SMTP, especially with large mailing lists or repeated/reforwarded mailings. Obviously this system has slightly different semantics from than when emails are handled by SMTP servers. But the recipient's server could be configured to automatically download attachments for data retention purposes if they wanted to.


You're talking about a glorified integration between traditional MIME e-mail and a P2P or cloud-storage service (perhaps sending magnet links or some such method). That can easily be achieved using current technology. Using direct P2P, however, has a few drawbacks:

1) Currently, e-mail is send-now-read-later. Your proposed modification would break that and would require both machines to be on-line for the entire duration of the download. Also, in an era of ever increasing numbers of mobile devices which are sometimes online and sometimes offline, this requirement can really come back to haunt you.

2) Try CC'ing multiple people with such a message and be prepared to hit your upload bandwidth cap soon.

Sure, some solution can be worked out. Trouble is, getting the rest of industry on board as well. There's a good reason why we use SMTP: everybody else does.

I find people don't particularly want to use email to transfer files. But email is the least common denominator approach for two arbitrary people to transfer files to each other without owning a server somewhere, it's a defacto mechanism for file transferring. And it's a natural way of attaching a message to those files as well.


I envy the place where you work. I routinely get funny videos or stupid pictures BCC'd to dozens of people from some notorious e-mail forwarders... give them the chance and they will send you 1080p full-length video. as a result, I have to regularly vacuum my mailbox since it drives the admins crazy if you have several hundred people with mailboxes filled with several gigabytes of worthless trash...

I think Thom's onto something, unifying email with P2P would be a big hit if it were adopted by enough people to make it scale.


Been there, done that. Google Wave failed. Compatibility does matter.

Reply Parent Score: 2

Alfman Member since:
2011-01-28

saso,


"you don't need to address me by name (though I appreciate), the comments system already tells me which post you are replying to ;-)"

I find it difficult to tell sometimes because it says "in reply to" but it identifies a thread rather than a person. Occasionally I have to click the parent message to be sure. I once asked osnews if they might be able to display the name for this reason.


"That can easily be achieved using current technology."

There are no technological impediments in my mind, just standardization ones.

"Using direct P2P, however, has a few drawbacks: 1) Currently, e-mail is send-now-read-later."

I did think of that however I wanted to keep the post simple. Yes having always on devices is a potential caveat especially when people aren't working "in sync", however there's no reason that mobile devices would have to serve files directly - they might use a delegate which would have bonus uses anyways.

You could argue this is similar to transmitting files to an SMTP server for queuing. But using SMTP servers doesn't allow me to reuse that data again. Today every email I send needs to exit my network twice, onces through SMTP and again via IMAP for archival. Ideally I'd be able to send files directly from my IMAP store to a recipient without downloading&uploading over and over again. Current SMTP protocols just cannot realize the type of efficiency that ought to be possible.


"2) Try CC'ing multiple people with such a message and be prepared to hit your upload bandwidth cap soon."

To be perfectly honest I think this is a scenario that P2P mail would particularly excel at. P2P can multiply one's reach tremendously.


"I routinely get funny videos or stupid pictures BCC'd to dozens of people from some notorious e-mail forwarders... give them the chance and they will send you 1080p full-length video."

Using the proposed protocol, you'd only receive the manifest, the attachments would be optional. And if it were sophisticated enough you might even be able to avoid downloading parts of the file that you skip over, as with HTTP streaming. This would do alot to unclog messaging servers who's principal purpose will be fast reliable messaging without file transfer.

"Been there, done that. Google Wave failed. Compatibility does matter."

Well most of google's projects fail commercially, but it doesn't invalidate the ideas. Users would suffer hugely if this was built on top over existing email only to realize that 0% of their contacts can actually use it. In my opinion the only chance this would have is if it were a new network where everyone joining it would support the same baseline features. "You want an easy way to transfer media with folks back home, just install ABC!" Then everyone with ABC installed could use every one of it's features without worrying about SMTP compatibility issues (webmail users, unsupported servers&clients, locked down email in phones, insecurity, etc).

Edited 2012-04-13 02:00 UTC

Reply Parent Score: 3