email + chat through single interface

While chat is an online conversational tool, email is offline messaging tool. Fundamentally both are text messaging tools (SMS being other) with two different delivery mechanism. I am exploring the possibilities and benefits of combining both. What I am asking for is a very simple mechanism. Emails and Chats have become very common across the world. Google, Yahoo, MSN, AOL and many others have rolled out products in both these categories. However none of these provide the seamless integration.

Chat

  1. You select a friend.
  2. Check if he is online.
  3. If online, type hello to him.
  4. if he is really online (not just his PC), he would return the hello.
  5. Then you are off to exchanging text messages.
  6. History is not recorded - unless you save the text seperately in a file

Email

  1. You select a friend
  2. Assume that he is not online
  3. type a message
  4. Send to him
  5. he reads at his convenience
  6. then he responds back.
  7. There is natural history recording

Current Integration
  1. Go to chat
  2. check if he is online
  3. if not send an email (through email client).

What I want
  1. I look for a friend
  2. if online, type message
  3. if not type message.
  4. send the message.
  5. if offline message gets replied later
  6. if online message is replied immediately
  7. you retain the history, thread, search capability in both cases

So when you want to look for what was said before, you check either the offline messages (email) or the online messaging (chats). This includes the attachments alongwith the two.

Addition of voice is similar.

While email systems have been around and stable for long time now, good integration needs chat as the base system. Instead of choosing online or offline, online as default choice and offline as a second option.

Chat applications have been driven towards simplicity. small window, fast response, for fast communication (fastfood kind). email meanwhile has taken the gourmet route, for detailed preparation, for remembering for long.

So in a way, I am looking for fastfood integrated with gourmet food.

Say you go for lunch. You go to fast food centre. however you don't get what you want, then you order a gourmet food. or say you sit on the table, either you can order a quick lunch (ready to be served, which you pickup from counter, eat in disposable plates, sit on high stools) or sit down for a three course meal (order personalized meal, combination of different defined recipes, sit in sofa, enjoy the ambience, listen to the music, pay higher).

The seperate restuarants for the two type of food are justifiable. But is it needed for communication. Unlike restaurants, software can switch modes instantly. You reach the door, look for ready to eat meals, either choose that or sit down and eat gourmet. the restaurant would instantly morph into the kind you want.

what if most of the day you just eat in restaurants. Some fast food, some slow. what if you cannot switch restaurants because it wastes time. what if you sit at the same location, continuosly eating (either kind at anytime). and the surrounding morphs with you accordingly.

So is the case with messaging. you communicate continuosly. either online, two way, synchronous or offline, long written, asynchronous.

The communication need not be limited to two persons, many can join in a conversation. each one in his own mode.
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