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Practical Internet Groupware by Jon Udell

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Chapter 3. Intranet Collaboration with NNTP and HTML

Using public newsgroups as described in the last chapter, you can augment a corporate web site with Usenet-style discussion. These site-specific newsgroups work a bit differently from their Usenet counterparts. They can store messages much longer than Usenet newsgroups do—even indefinitely. That persistence creates opportunities to manage the message store as a pool of content that can be advantageously linked into a web site. But this is still a public mode of collaboration, one that ought to appeal to the widest possible audience. It’s inappropriate here, as it is inappropriate on the Usenet, to use the full set of capabilities built into the Microsoft/Netscape newsreaders. Public newsgroups necessarily cater to the lowest common denominator: plain ASCII text messages.

On the intranet, it’s a different story. Here you’re not dealing with the public, only with your own staff. That means you can allow, and should encourage, the most effective use of Internet communication tools—that is, newsreaders and mailers. They can do much more than many people realize. For example, most people know that the Microsoft and Netscape newsreaders can post plain-text messages to newsgroups and can also attach MIME-encoded binary files. But relatively few people have used them to:

  • Compose and display HTML messages

  • Communicate securely over SSL

  • Authenticate using name/password credentials or client certificates (digital IDs)

  • Do full-text search of ...

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