Geoffrey Meredith
Thoughts on Technology


(posted on 15 Mar 2008)

I don't use the word "hate" very often.  I reserve that work for things that I dislike with a real passion but email is becoming one of those things.  If you attempted to follow my previous posting about Controlling SPAM you can guess why I have this passion.

I wish that I could give up email altogether.  I think that this will happen in the next few years but at least at this point, there is not a better alternative for most of the people that I communicate with.  I have found that Twitter and IM have become integral parts of my communications infrastructure but it doesn't and will never come close to replacing the majority of my communications needs.  The long breaks in my blogging record suggest that blogging is not a good communications mechanism for me.  Most of the social networks out there just seem to add to the spam and privacy problems and don't really add much positive to my communications.  I'm just stuck with email for a while.

There are some good technologies out there to "fix" email.  DomainKeys and Sender Policy Framework (SPF) are two technologies that could to a lot to climate the problems with SPAM but there is just too much inertia in the install based of technology and administrator skill sets to actually get a critical mass of adoption.  If the weight of spam has not overcome this inertia by now, I don't think it ever will.

I think that the only thing that will fix the spam problem is something new that replaces email.  That new techology must have obvious benefits and have spam resistance built in from the beginning.  Earlier adopters will legitimize the technology and will eventually drag the rest of the world into using that technology.  We are seeing these kinds of shifts with the use of Facebook and Twitter but the closed, centralzied nature of both these system make them inappropriate for mass adoption that the internet infrastucture level that is required to really replace email.  By the way, when I speak of "email" here, I'm refering to SMTP email.  I think that we will always have email as in electronic mail but it may be based on completely different underlying technology than the SMTP that we see today.

What will replace SMTP email?  That's a pretty tough question.  There doesn't seem to be anything with momemtium on the horizon yet.  It is something that I've been thinking about and does tie into the OpenPersona idea that I've been playing with.  Maybe it will come out of that effort.