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Practical Internet Groupware by Jon Udell

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A Subscriber-Based Notification System

For now, let’s put LDAP and Active Directory on the back burner and build a simple notification system based on group membership. Notification enables groupware systems to find a middle ground between push and pull technologies. To use an HTTP or NNTP docbase, a user has to actively pull information from it. People are busy, though, and the cornucopia of information sources to which the browser gives access is overwhelming. Many useful docbases languish because, as their creators like to complain, “Nobody checks them.” To combat this problem, an old method, email, was given a new name: push technology. Docbases can use email updates to reach out and touch their users. To do this most effectively, you should strike a balance between push and pull. For example, to showcase the improved HTML rendering in the Navigator 3.0 mailreader, Netscape launched a campaign called InBox Direct, which delivered web pages from participating sites into subscribers’ email inboxes. This was a good way to make a point about HTML email, but wholesale replication of web pages into email inboxes can create a lot of clutter.

The Hybrid Push/Pull Technique

There is a hybrid solution that strikes a balance between the push and pull extremes. ThePointCast system, the first of a new breed of push technologies that supplanted email with special protocols and receivers, had the right idea. A PointCast feed pushes headlines and summaries at you but links these items to more ...

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