Integrating Email into WWW?

Francis Heylighen (
Tue, 13 Apr 1993 19:32:16 +0100

A thought that just occurred to me (I'm new on this list, so this may
already have been discussed and/or dismissed...).

The basic idea of WWW is to integrate all existing and new Internet
services: FTP, Gopher, WAIS, Newsgroups, etc. I haven't heard anything yet
about integrating email, though. WWW documents regularly contain links to
people, presenting an address, email address and perhaps more info on the
persons activities and affiliations. But these are just passive data. It
would be interesting if I read an interesting document that I could
directly contact the author without leaving my WWW browser.

One intuitive way to implement this would be that if I select the person's
name (or email address) I would get a dialogue in which I can compose an
email message. This might follow the same conventions as the "forms" which
were discussed here recently: fields for "Subject:", "To: (by default
already filled in with the email address", "From: (default my own
address"), "Text:", etc. The idea is that sending an email message or
request to a person is not basically different from sending a query to a
database server (the main difference being that the person may be even
slower and more unreliable when it comes to getting the answer one would
like to have).

Of course, this implies that the appropriate email protocol (SMTP?) would
be incorporated in HTTP. But that can remain hidden from the user.

A similar interface could be written for mailing lists (like www-talk),
bringing them on the same footing as the already existing interface to

Dr. Francis Heylighen Systems Researcher
PO, Free University of Brussels, Pleinlaan 2, B -1050 Brussels, Belgium
Phone:+32-2-6412525; Fax:+32-2-6412489; Email: