Ever since the dawn of the Internet, the problem of large-group messaging has proved to be particularly hard to solve. Despite numerous attempts, no good solutions exist, until now.
The earliest attempt at a solution was email-based mailing lists. An administrator would setup a list of member emails and give it an alias; one email to the alias goes to everyone on the list. However, this solution quickly became unworkable due to the reply-all problem i.e. every reply also goes to everyone else on the list. The number of messages in a discussion can grow exponentially and inundate email inboxes. This can seem funny at times, but is terribly frustrating if you’re trying to get work done.
Fed up with the email overload, the next attempt was to setup message boards or bulletin boards (bbs, nntp etc). Moving the conversation to a message board provided a welcome respite to the email inbox. However, message boards get cluttered very quickly. It’s difficult to make sense of the discussions when multiple, parallel discussion-threads are going on simultaneously. Also, it takes just one individual to hijack the conversation and ruin the discussion.
In response to this problem, emerged Blogs, which enabled the creator to build one coherent narrative on her blog. Comments were kept on the side, to avoid distracting from the main content. This made the discussions easier to follow.
Blogs later evolved into micro-blogs and social media, which enabled more users to participate in the conversation. Even enterprise collaboration tools incorporated social features to enable the social enterprise. However, the easier it got to publish, the more the message volume, and the harder it became to make sense of it all. While social tools work well for many other purposes, the problem of large-team messaging remained unsolved.
A viable solution is now available in the form of “smart” messaging, as implemented by Teamchat. Instead of treating messages as simple plain-text messages, smart messages keep additional context about the message. Smart messages can thread related messages into a single conversation. They can even aggregate related responses to create a summary message (e.g. poll, sales reports). Smart messages keep updating themselves to display only the latest version instead of intermediate ones. Once related messages are aggregated, it doesn’t matter anymore how many team members responded to a message. Smart messages enable clutter-free messaging in teams of unlimited size. Smart messages are programmable, therefore infinitely extensible, to deal with as-yet unanticipated requirements.
Here is an infographic that illustrates this evolution.
The evolution of large-group messaging has reached its next, and we believe final, step: self-aggregating, self-updating smart messages that enable clutter-free messaging in large groups.