about attachments (lecture! ;-)

Peg Holman pholman at email.msn.com
Wed Feb 10 10:20:42 PST 1999

The Open Space Institute (US) site is also available to post things.  As a
matter of fact, the OS in education document collected by Birgitt is on the
site at http://www.tmn.com/openspace in Resources/Stories from the Field.

To put something on the site, send a message/attachment to osi at tmn.com

Peg Holman

-----Original Message-----
From: koos de heer <koosdhr at AURYN.NL>
Date: Wednesday, February 10, 1999 12:19 AM
Subject: about attachments (lecture! ;-)

>Dear folks,
>For those who know everything about attachments:
>there is a practical proposal on how to handle binary
>files on this list at the end of this message. You
>may skip the lecture.
>Sometimes we want to share information that is hard
>to put in the text of an email message. Binary files
>like pictures and word processing documents are a few
>For this purpose, email has the possibility of using
>attachments, but on a list like this, attachments
>have two important disadvantages.
>Binary files like pictures and word processing
>documents come in a great variety of formats. Often
>the software we use will open a few different formats,
>but there is very little software around that will
>accept all formats (some more on this later).
>When sending email to a specific person, we can
>put the attachment in a format we assume the other
>person's software can open and read. And even if we do
>not know the preferred format for the other person, if
>it does not work, the other person will complain and we
>can change it and send it again.
>The other problem is that binary files can often get
>quite big, much bigger than your average email message.
>At this moment, I have a few thousand email messages
>stored in my email archive. The average email message
>is around 2 kb, the average attachment around 80 kb;
>40 times as large. My largest attachment is 1,5 Mb.
>When the recipient has a fast internet connection, this
>is no problem. Or when you don't have to pay for online
>time (internet through a free local call or a cable
>connection) it does not matter how long it takes to
>download an attachment.
>In large parts of the world, people have to pay for
>their online time by the minute. Even if internet
>access is through a local telephone call, those calls
>are not free in most countries (they often are in the
>US). So it can happen that one spends money on down-
>loading an attachment which is useless because the
>software cannot open it. And with a list like the
>OS-list, with a great variety of people on it who
>undoubtedly possess a great variety of computers,
>this is certain to happen.
>Another aspect is the strain on the email system as
>a whole. Because an attachment is relatively large,
>the worldwide email system has a lot of work copying
>these heavy attachments to all the different servers.
>When there are complaints about the format and the
>attachment is sent to the list again, the same thing
>happens again.
>Because of all this, it is best not to send binary
>attachments to an email list. Then the question is:
>how to share binary documents? In the case of word
>processing files, there are two options:
>1. if the text is not too large, you can copy the
>   text from the word processor window and paste it
>   into your email window so that it becomes part
>   of the email message itself.
>2. if the text is too large for that, or you have
>   a certain lay-out that you want to preserve, it
>   is best to find a central place where to put the
>   file so that everyone who wants to can access it.
>A very good format for a word processor file is the
>*.RTF format, which can be read by most word processors
>around the globe. Look in the window you get when you
>choose "save as..." and try to find an option for the
>file format. If you can find *.rtf or Rich Text Format
>there, you're all set.
>A software package that can read and convert almost any
>file format around is Keyview: http://www.keyview.com.
>I find this a very useful tool for viewing and converting
>all sorts of binary files. It is only available for
>Windows 95 and up, I don't know of a similar Mac or 3.1
>Now we got this far, let's find a central place to put
>these files. I think the best place would be a website.
>We have a few fine websites in this Open Space world, so
>I would ask the maintainers of these sites if they can
>create such a possibility. I have a website of my own
>and I would be willing to provide space for this purpose,
>but my site is in Dutch and not specifically about Open
>Space so there must be better alternatives.
>So all you webmasters, how about it?
>koos de heer
>auryn management advies
>utrecht, netherlands
>mailto:koosdhr at auryn.nl

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