Internet Message Deflexion: Intertwingling IMAP, SMTP, NNTP, IM, RSS, & More
(The sections on this page were originally published in this and this section on the IMAP Service Providers page. I need to edit this page so that the contents make more sense in a stand-alone article.)
Providers Offering Message Deflexion (including deflexion to or from IMAP servers)
Sometimes it is useful to have messages available in a data format or
through a protocol that is different from the original format or protocol.
For example, you might prefer to
- Email or web-based discussion groups with an NNTP client because NNTP clients are usually very good at threading, tracking, automatic scoring, flagging, & killing, and other power discussion-group features.
- Email or NNTP discussion groups in a web browser so you can easily make a link (using an http:// URL) to an interesting message in your bookmarks or on your web site. (If imap:// and news:// URLs were more widely supported, you could do this with email and NNTP messages too.)
- RSS/XML feeds with your email client because then these messages are integrated into your email environment and an interesting message can easily be flagged, forwarded to a friend, or saved to a relevant mailbox.
Here are some service providers who offer these or other types of message deflexion.
- blogger.com -- all accounts support“BlogSend” for automatically emailing out blog entries; Blogger Pro users can post a blog entry by emailing in a blog entry
- free-conversant.com -- free and pay wiki-blog web sites that can be accessed and updated via email and news messages; server uses exim MTA and UW IMAP; project of Seth Dillingham, Brian Andresen, others, and Macrobyte.net
- genecast.com -- XML-to-NNTP; demo groups are free, most groups require a paid subscription
- gmane.org -- free Mail To News And Back Again (mailing-list <--> NNTP)
- Info Aggregator -- free, feeds RSS to IMAP mailboxes; Cyrus IMAP; user customizable remote filtering using Sieve; Horde/IMP; Info Aggregator gets a rating and is the #1 Guide Pick in the Top 10 RSS Feed Readers at email.about.com; also see the discussion in Dion Almaer's blog entry RSS Reading via Email; project of BlogStreet.com and Rajesh Jain of Emergic.org
- MailBucket.org, a public email-to-RSS gateway
- NewsAdmin.com will host a uni- or bi-directional mail-news gateway at no charge. They maintain a list of known gateways between mailing lists and newsgroups.
- oddpost.com (in table above) -- as discussed in this section of their FAQ, their web-based email client can access RSS feeds; paid subscription required [Does anyone know if Oddpost users can access the Oddpost RSS feeds using any IMAP client, i.e., are the RSS messages stored in IMAP mailboxes?]
Tools for Doing Your Own Message Deflexion
If you want to set up your own message deflexion instead of — or in addition to — using the services of the providers mentioned above, you can use tools such as the following.
- Pine's maildrop feature, which I discuss on the Power Pine page in the section Using a “Maildrop” and the #move Namespace.
- blojsim -- An add-on for blojsom that allows you to make blog entries via instant message (Jabber, AIM or MSN IM). Support for posting via email (POP3 and IMAP) is in the works.
- Jason Brome's nntp//rss -- Java-based bridge between RSS feeds and NNTP clients that enables you to read your favorite RSS syndicated content within an NNTP newsreader; includes instructions for How to get articles from nntp//rss to INN by Jeff Vinocur
- Steve Tibbett's SyndiCache -- MS-Windows RSS aggregator that feeds into the SyndiCache local NNTP server so you can read the feeds with any NNTP client
- João Prado Maia's Papercut NNTP Server -- Python-based Usenet server that can be a gateway to web-based message-board software such as Phorum. One of its most important features is flexibility and simplicity of its design, allowing any user to extend its features and create a custom plug-in to it.
- NetWin's WebNews -- web-based access to Internet News Groups
- Bill McCoy's IMPblog -- “an exploration of using IMAP as the content database for weblogs and email as the weblog management interface.”
- Aaron Swartz's RSS to Email Aggregator
- Adam Bursey's RSSMail -- E-Mail to RSS Script
- RSS Monkey is a simple, stand-alone script that allows you to add RSS feeds from other sites to your personal site, or for you to maintain several versions of your own RSS feed.
- Q: Integrated Mailing List/Web Forum Product (similiar to Yahoo Groups) at Google Answers
For more thoughts about message deflexion, see the next section.
The History and Future of IMAP
Some of the history of IMAP is described in the comp.mail.misc message Re: Did POP3 servers ever auto-delete mail after retrieval? and this followup message, both by Mark Crispin, the inventor of IMAP.
The Future of Internet Messaging: Intertwingling IMAP, SMTP, NNTP, IM, and RSS
The IMAP, SMTP, NNTP, IM, and RSS/SSF/NEcho/Pie messaging spaces are merging and the messaging client software and service providers that will prevail will provide seamless access to and updating of all these message stores. The way these message spaces will merge might involve protocol or message deflexion, protocol or message-store intertwingling, translation between data formats, or something entirely different. In any case, I think that this intertwingling of messaging protocols and messaging spaces is one of the more interesting things happening on the Net right now. For more thoughts about this, see:
- Chuq Von Rospach : Teal Sunglasses : August 18, 2003: Death
of e-mail? I don't think so... : “...web forums, portals,
virtual communities, CMS systems, and blogs, all ways to do things that
in many cases, either were handled previously via mailing lists and
e-mail or not really handled at all. ...RSS... The last step (IMHO)
is to converge all of this stuff.”
- The thread The constraint to widespread adoption of syndication
which begins with a
message by Doug Ransom on 20 July 2003 in which he says:
“I feel aggregators must be integrated into
...email clients ...for widespread adoption. ...Sharpreader, syndirella, newsmonster, etc. are not headed for the mainstream, because they have yet-another-interface that behaves almost as good as a mail/nntp reader. Once the clients get good enough that anyone can subscribe to RSS feeds in their mail client and the items appear in a specific folder, and [there is] a simple and efficient workflow to find feeds ...,people who aren't real techies will start using aggregators a lot more.”
- Ray Ozzie's Weblog, July
20, 2003: “Has anyone yet attempted to create "RSS
email", where the "feeds" served to a feedreader might
be automatically synthesized from the emails themselves as things such
as Person (from or to), Thread, Folder, etc? (One could probably easily
implement this as a straight layer on top of
- Ralph Brandi's There Is
No Cat : July 20, 2003 : No
Sidewalks in Blogistan : “But it's difficult to sustain
an extended conversation on the web in the way it is on Usenet or IRC
or mailing lists.
...Still, there's something nagging at the back of my brain about breathless claims that blogs are building community. ...The lack of sidewalks in Blogistan makes the formation of community very difficult here.”
- Flutterby!: Real
syndication by Dan Lyke
in which he says “Nope, not "news syndicators" or whatever
that modern wussy crap is, we're talking industrial-strength time-tested
terabytes-served chews alt.binaries.pictures.erotica.amateur.female
for lunch blows your doors off and in the next county before you realize
the light has changed technology.” (18 July 2003)
- Rajesh Jain's Emergic.org weblog: Something
New and Big is Brewing in which he says
“...an RSS aggregator ...is creating within me the same excitement that I felt ...in 1994.” [ I (Nancy) am also feeling this early-1990's excitement again!]
- Phil Wolff's a klog apart (aka
aka): Is your
email program the ultimate microcontent manager? and the comments
page (which includes a comment by me (Nancy))
- a klog apart: Steve
Gillmor says email is a subset of RSS. You betcha.
- Advogato.org: The thread RSS
via NNTP? which began with a 16-April-2003 message by Gary
Lawrence Murphy. in which he says “It's 2003 -- are we really
building RSS aggregators that pull a feed a thousand times to feed a
thousand customers? USENET and RSS have a common transmission pattern
where small messages from diverse sites are often redistributed to locally
clustered users, so why are we pulling so much XML when we already know
how to fix it?”
- InstantMessagingPlanet.com: Merging
IM With Blogging By Christopher Saunders (3 July 2003)
- anil dash's magazine: Introducing
the Microcontent Client
- anil dash's weblog: July
02, 2003: posts are the atomic element of weblogs especially this
comment by Dan Hartung, which, among other things, discusses Usenet
- Kuro5hin.org: Shortcomings
of today's RSS systems, which includes sections about Using NNTP
to distribute RSS and Using a Messaging Architecture, by
gpoul (11 November 2002)
- clevercactus -- Upcoming (currently in Beta testing) Java application that integrates personal information management, weblog posting, RSS reader functionality, and email (including IMAP)