6/18/10

Is There a Place for Vapor E-Communications?

I've seen a couple of articles on VaporStream's "Electronic Conversation Software". The idea is that you can send communications that look a lot like e-mail, but the communication is temporary, exists in the cloud, and resides in your computers RAM (temporary memory). Once the communication is over, it disappears and cannot be recovered, even through e-discovery methods. The product is pitched as a great resource for reducing e-mail server storage, reduce the cost of potential e-discovery litigation, and satisfy the two tenants of HIPPA requirements. I took a quick look at it this morning and found that it is more of an Instant Messaging (IM) replacement than an e-mail replacement, but that it looks to have some good uses.

When I first read about this in itWorldCanda, and then again in ECM Connection, the articles were structured in a way that made me think that this was something that could potentially replace e-mail. I started dreaming of a situation where all those crappy vendor emails that I get ALL DAY LONG, could vanish automatically after I read/skimmed/ignore them. However, I quickly learned that you could only send or receive communicate with others that are also on the VaporStream software. So, my visions of a magic vendor communications fell to the wayside.

So here's the reader's digest version of how the product works:

  1. Sign-up for VaporStream's service (free 60-day trial... $7.50/mth after that).
  2. Get everyone that you want to have confidential, temporary communications with to also sign up.
  3. Use VaporStream's web or app interface to send and receive communications from other VaporStream users.
  4. The messages are sent and read via SSL (secure) through VaporStream's interface, and reside in your computers temporary memory (RAM).
  5. When done, the message disappears and cannot be recovered.
VaporStream attempts to electronically recreate a "verbal conversation" using IM or e-mail structure. The only way to "save" the communication would be to take a screenshot of the message, but even that doesn't get all of the communication because the header and messages are sent separately (thus, you'd have to take two snapshots, and tie them together.) There could be a great advantage to having something like this set up between members of your department or firm, but again, it is more of a compliment to current tools like e-mail or IM, and not necessarily a replacement for either. 
I could see a product like VaporStream being used on internal communications where you want to let others know certain things, but don't necessarily want to clutter up everyone's e-mail in-box, or have the issues that surround communicating via IM (if you're even allowed to do such a thing.) Perhaps there are certain clients that would like a product like this to communicate on sensitive matters that you don't want to leave any type of communication trail... I'll let you think about the ethical "slippery slope" that something like that might bring.
VaporStream is definitely worth a look, and should be brought up as a potential secure communications resource that could be used in the right situation.

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2 comments:

John M. said...

Can I send you a message and turn my computer off before you turn your computer on? I'm guessing not since the message is only in my RAM.

For an email replacement I'd prefer something that acts more like email but fixing the problems (messages wait on a server and they are all encrypted and I know when they are delivered). The only product I know of like this is TrulyMail.

The real benefit of VaporStream's product seems to be that someone cannot prove you said something. I guess there is value in denyability but it seems you lose too much of the email functionality. I still need asynchronous messaging with full offline support. It doesn't quite sound like VaporStream will support this, yet.

Steve Ballmer said...

Creative protest style!

 

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