SHOCK: Communicating with Computational Messages and Automatic Private Profiles
Rajan Lukose, Eytan Adar, Joshua Tyler, and Caesar Sengupta

A computationally enhanced message contains some embedded programmatic components that are interpreted and executed automatically upon receipt. Unlike ordinary text email or instant messages, they make possible a number of useful applications. In this paper, we describe a general and flexible messaging system called SHOCK that extends the functionality of prior computational email systems by allowing XML-encoded SHOCK messages to interact with an automatically created profile of a user. These profiles consist of information about the most common tasks users perform, such as their Web browsing behavior, their conventional email usage, etc. Since users are sensitive about such data, the system is designed with privacy as a central design goal, and employs a distributed peer-to-peer architecture to achieve it. The system is largely implemented with commodity Web technologies and provides both a Web interface as well as one that is tightly integrated with users ordinary email clients. With SHOCK, users can send highly targeted messages without violating others privacy, and engage in structured conversation appropriate to the context without disrupting their existing work practices. We describe our implementation in detail, the most useful novel applications of the system, and our experiences with the system in a pilot field test.

12th International World Wide Web Conference, May 20-24, 2003. Available as: PDF (659kb), and HTML