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Enhancing email Content with Service Agreements

IP.com Disclosure Number: IPCOM000033628D
Original Publication Date: 2004-Dec-20
Included in the Prior Art Database: 2004-Dec-20
Document File: 2 page(s) / 46K

Publishing Venue

IBM

Abstract

Methods for improving e-mail systems are described. These methods include intelligent caching of web pages whose links are included in e-mails and advanced annotation capabilities. Caching of web pages is done in order to avoid problems with web pages changing from the time a link is sent to the time it is received in an e-mail. The caching is also done to reduce the number of web pages that need to be requested external to the cache. The annotation capabilities include inserting additional information to e-mails, including 1) timezones and time differences for phone numbers included in e-mails, 2) indicate if e-mail address listed in text is included in address book, 3) indicate if user has sent or received e-mail from e-mail address listed in text, and 4) insert title or other information from web page whose link is included in e-mail text.

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Enhancing email Content with Service Agreements

This publication is focused on improving the service an email provider currently gives us by attempting to satisfy some of the common problems we have with email. We enhance email systems of today by recognizing how people interact with email. What we often find in email today are hypertext links, phone numbers, and email addresses. We will examine each one of these independently. It is understood that not everyone may want these features, and yet these features cause additional overhead and costs to the internet service provider (ISP). Therefore, these features could be made available to subscribers either as part of a more expensive service plan or as an a la cart offering.

     How can an email provider improve upon how hypertext links are treated in e-mails? The fact that links are clickable is nice, but what happens when the user takes the link? The link might be gone or, by the time it is clicked on, it may actually point to something else (i.e., the page has been modified), or the site it is pointing to may be slow and overloaded with requests. These problems can get worse as the email gets older (i.e., if it is saved by the user and then the user tries to look at it potentially weeks later). What we propose is that the email provider would, when a note is being sent or received, go out and store the current copy of the web page. This feature could not only copy the page being linked to, but perhaps other pages that are direct links of the page in question. Limits could be put on it to save only a certain amount and/or contain or not contain images depending upon the circumstances. The provider could scan email for links and only cache pages which are sent to over a certain number of in-boxes (minus spam links). The page(s) would only be cached for a certain amount of time, or access to these pages could be monitored and cached pages could be removed once they are no longer frequently accessed. If/when people go to file an e-mail with a URL, they could be prompted with an option to save the cached web page with their e-mail.

     Example of "intelligence" used to reduce caching overhead: web pages are cached by the ISP when an e-mail with a URL is received. This can result in the same page being cached multiple times, due to the URL being received on multiple days; i.e., if one person receives an e-mail from a friend on Tuesday where the link is to the cnn.com home page saying "look at this", and the next day someone receives a different e-mail with a link to the cnn.com home page, there will be two copies of the cnn.com homepage - one taken on Tuesday, the other on Wednesday.

     All of this is done in an intelligent manner to reduce t...