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7.8. Options for the future development of DIALogue

7.8.1. Special factors concerning DIALogue facilities

From an operational point of view, DIALogue has some considerable differences from DIAL Index and DIAL Search: In summary, it is technically feasible for DIALogue to be run on the Bank's own host computer, and there would be administrative advantages, and possibly legal advantages, in the Bank maintaining the necessary relationships with the DIALogue participants.

Against this, there are some advantages in ease of maintaining consistency of appearance between DIALogue and the other facilities, and in maintaining the most useful interlinkages between them, if they are run from the same host. The Bank may also have reasons to wish to have DIALogue run independently. If so, the additional burden of work and responsibility that this places on the DIAL host facility should not be underestimated. DIALogue work will of necessity have to be given a high priority, and will reduce the amount of time available for staff to devote to the other DIAL facilities.

7.8.2. Complexities in the DIALogue prototype

The communications options developed for the DIALogue prototype, as described above, give users a rich set of options which include sending mail to any of the following: Having developed these facilities in accordance with the terms of reference as detailed at the outset of the consultancy, we now have some concern that they may create too complex a set of options. There is a risk that some potential users of DIALogue who do not have extensive prior experience with use of e-mail facilities may be unaware of exactly how broadly their message will be transmitted, particularly when they reply to messages. This has the potential for embarrassment, particularly when a person thinks that they are replying to only the sender of a message, but in fact it is going to many recipients.

Any e-mail discussion list raises this problem to some extent, and e-mail users must always be vigilant to ensure they do not inadvertently send a private reply to a list. However, the DIALogue prototype offers an unusually sophisticated facility which offers a graduated scale of communications ranging from single recipients to every user of the facility.

7.8.3. Additional relationships between DIALogue and the other DIAL facilities

There are two potential uses of DIALogue which were not explicitly required by the project specifications, but which seem desirable:

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