Note: This column represents the opinions
of the writer and as such, is not purported as fact|
Electronic mail, or email as it's become known, is the single most popular
and useful service operating over the Internet today.
the contents of Aardvark's "million-dollar ideas" notebook
are revealed for all to see!
Since the Net moved out of the halls of academia and into the "real world,"
email has all but replaced the fax machine and significantly reduced the
amount of telephone tag we play each day. Even postal services all around
the world are noticing its effect on the amount of regular snail mail
It's cheap, quick, and in most cases, fairly reliable. It really does
sound like the ideal communications mechanism doesn't it?
So why would I dare suggest that it should be done away with?
As another method of offsetting the cost of running this
site, I'm considering the use of sponsorship -- but would like some feedback.
Based on recent stats, a sponsor could expect to have their branding
delivered around a million times a year to an extremely well targeted
audience of (mainly Kiwi) internet/IT professionals and hard-core Net users.
If you're brave enough to be Aardvark's exclusive sponsor for a year, or if you're
a reader who'd like to voice your opinion on the matter then please
Well let's take a look at the downsides of email.
In its standard form, it is one of the most insecure communications mediums we
have -- second only to writing your message on the back of a postcard.
It isn't 100% reliable -- there's no guarantee, and often no way of knowing,
that your message has been delivered.
It's becoming increasingly dangerous -- thanks to flaws in Microsoft's
ubiquitous Outlook program, virus writers are having a field-day at our
And speaking of expense, the cost of using email is skyrocketing.
I'm not talking about ISP fees, I'm talking about the cost of dealing
with spam and that of suring up your defenses against those pesky email-borne
threats to your system's security and integrity.
In short, email is great -- but it could (and should) be a whole lot better.
Here's my wishlist for a service to replace email. It should have:
Okay, so this is a very big ask and I don't think it's all possible -- but
if someone can pull it off then they'd make a very large fortune.
- Built-in strong encryption that is consistent across all implementations
so that messages are compatible with all email programs.
- A consistent and reliable method of reporting the delivery and opening
- A design that makes it easy to eliminate or ignore the results of unwanted
commercial solicitations without affecting the flow of genuine correspondence.
- A design that eliminates email as a possible vector for viruses and
It looked for a while as if ICQ and other instant messaging (IM) services
might just solve many of those problems -- but, unfortunately, the developers
of these problems have kept adding new features and functions to the extent
that they now suffer from many of the same flaws that affect email itself.
It strikes me that the history of email has closely followed that of sex
in recent times.
A few decades ago people seldom talked about it in public but it was safe, fun
These days, everyone's talking about it, everyone's trying to sell you something
using it, and you risk your wellbeing and safety every time you
do it with an unknown third-party.
If technology now gives us the power to replace sex with cloning,
surely we can do something about email?
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