Free and instant web database systems utilizing web-mail accounts
The creation and use of web database and other interactive web systems has great potential for the Third World, especially as MNPs (mobile network providers) reduce the cost and difficulty of using data, and low-cost handsets with internet facility (e.g. Samsung E2200 at US$ 40-00) become more common. Also of course it is chicken and egg � without web based services which assist people, they will (correctly) see the internet as a frivolity or a luxury or a niche thing or a toy without practical application.
One of the problems with implementing a web database system is the cost, lead-time and infrastructure required before the system can even go live. There are program generators such as codecharge and ironspeed which make this process faster, cheaper and less skill-intensive, and there are even services like Caspio Bridge (at $50+/month) which make these things much easier.
One alternative to the conventional web database model could work as follows:
1. Instead of having one centralized web database system, one has effectively many duplicated web database systems, sitting on gmail accounts (or yahoo mail accounts), and being fed data by email user group emails (i.e. yahoo groups or google groups). The searching which is available on gmail or yahoo email accounts is reasonably powerful (and almost immediate � unlike a lot of web content, which only gets a search update every few weeks). This will work (at the expense of the gmail or yahoo servers) for up to a few hundred users.
2. So � each user has to have a web-based email like google or yahoo, which also has a good email search facility
3. Each user has to subscribe to a googlegroups or yahoogroups or similar email broadcasting service
4. Emails ideally have to be structured according to some template or format set by the system founders or operators. Short codes to mean certain categories may or may not be used. Probably a cardboard sheet guide will be issued.
5. We probably envisage at least two classes of operators:
6. The main mass of users post data and (maybe) search on data. They get queries which may be email, instant messenger, sms or phone. They use mainly low-end mobile phones with internet facility. If they search, they contact people again effectively manually. They very probably have 2 or more email accounts and use a dedicated one for the web database system. Incoming emails can even be redirected into the users main email account while leaving a copy of the original email behind in the web database account ready for searching etc..
7. Fewer users do most of the searching – they use mostly PC’s with internet connection. They copy and paste data from email subject lines into spreadsheets or other applications to do searching and to contact persons posting data. They may have applications to automate or semi-automate the process of contacting people.
8. The system admin people keep an eye on how things are going (especially at the start) and try to promote use of the system by small and by large participants..
Dont forget of course that twitter can also be used as an add-and-search database, but there are no controls over who can post stuff � i.e. the sub-system of twitter could easily become full of false and crank postings; the use of a googlegroups, yahoogroups or similar with a controlled entry (and a controller-expulsion facility!) means that the user population is controlled.
Is there some similar alternative?
Let google or yahoo offer something whereby one single email account can be used by a whole group for searching � then each member can send structured emails from their own account to this email address and can search on all the emails, without being able to add, modify or delete emails directly. The system operator (obviously) has those controls. This will involve a new system of email accounts with structured passwords for different user levels � it should be quite simple to implement, and could at the same time fulfill some other functions (see appendix below). The email account should only accept incoming emails from addresses which are in the email contacts system, or which are in a certain email user group.
Alex Weir, Gaborone, Thursday 15 August 2013
tel +267 72 98 2005
1. let someone else read your email subject lines but not write modify or delete any emails
2. let someone else read your email subject lines and the complete body text and attachments but not write modify or delete any emails
3. let someone else simply check if there are any unread emails, without even seeing who from
4. let someone write emails for you without seeing any inbox and without being able to delete anything
5. have some sms functionality where for example item(3) above can be effected by an sms from a designated number or from any number with a PIN or TAN code. (i.e. do I need to trip to an internet connection or not?…)
5. there is a password level which permits viewing browsing and searching of all emails but with no add or delete or reply facility (but maybe a forward facility?…) – this fits in with the webmail-webdatabase concept as outlined above…