Thursday, May 20, 2004

Controlling the channel

Control of the channel is an important thing. Why else would we wrestle over the remote when watching TV? This control is equally important from a net perspective. As Jon Udell says:
What matters is who controls the channel of communication, not how we construe the direction of flow.

That's your basic problem with an email thread that you've been copied on that goes on for ever and ever and ever. It's not that they are "pushing" it to you. It's that you can't turn it off. You don't control the channel. An equally vexing, although less talked about problem, is when you are left off a thread that you would be very interested in. This gets less traction because it is a sin of omission. You get irked when you are aware that it happens, but how often does it happen without your knowledge?

Jon also discusses personalized RSS feeds for things like bank notifications that might otherwise get lost in the email stream. This is clearly different from the filtering a stream on the client side -- you can't be allowed to see other people's notices. And again, it is about channel control. What if you'd really prefer to be informed via RSS?

I really wonder about the mechanics of making this work. How do you keep people from subscribing to other folks' feeds?


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