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Communications The Internet Technology

What Would a Post-Email World Look Like? 314

Posted by Soulskill
from the so-much-more-free-time dept.
jfruh writes "Pundits have been gleefully predicting the death of email for years, but nobody has really been able to explain what will replace email, especially for the medium's archiving capabilities that businesses and governments have come to rely on. It's possible that email won't vanish, but rather become invisible, one component of an integrated communication stream that will be transparent to users but still present — and useful — under the hood. It may turn out that Google's Wave, which was built on this idea, was just a bit ahead of its time."
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What Would a Post-Email World Look Like?

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  • That's funny (Score:5, Insightful)

    by doston (2372830) on Tuesday May 29, 2012 @06:08PM (#40149049)
    I've been emailing back and forth with multiple businesses today. It's not even time to talk about the death of snail mail yet, so why would it be time to talk about the death of SMTP? I say Bah!
  • As long as... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by TJ_Phazerhacki (520002) on Tuesday May 29, 2012 @06:08PM (#40149061) Journal
    As long as mid level execs feel that email is an instant, unlimited capacity communication channel that saves everything for ever but is still secure and reliable with 24/7 5-9's uptime, email will be around.

    I've been waiting to kill email for years, and they won't let me do it.

  • What's email? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jaymz666 (34050) on Tuesday May 29, 2012 @06:13PM (#40149107)

    Is it defined as messages sent via SMTP? Or just electronic messages?
    There was email before SMTP, there will be email after SMTP. Messages between two users on a BBS was email, messages between a couple of users on facebook is email. So, no, it won't go away.

  • Re:As long as... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by kwalker (1383) on Tuesday May 29, 2012 @06:15PM (#40149127) Journal

    Before you can kill something useful, there must be a replacement. What do you suggest as a replacement?

  • by PeanutButterBreath (1224570) on Tuesday May 29, 2012 @06:16PM (#40149147)

    A guy can dream. . .

  • Not wave (Score:4, Insightful)

    by frisket (149522) <> on Tuesday May 29, 2012 @06:17PM (#40149161) Homepage

    It may turn out that Google's Wave, which was built on this idea, was just a bit ahead of its time.

    Nonsense. Wave was just a threaded BB, much inferior to a News client, but graphical, so therefore cooler.

  • i have an idea! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 29, 2012 @06:20PM (#40149189)

    Let's take a proven, non-centralized, robust, simple, optionally private, easily implemented, open standard that anyone implement from the RFCs, and anyone can run on their very own computer, and replace it with something centrally controlled, ideally by the UN, US, EU, or Coast Guard, proprietary, make it that people cannot reasonably run their own servers, or implement it from scratch. Bonus points if it can be another vector to deliver advertizements to eyeballs, and tightly controlled so those ads cannot be blocked by end users.

    That should fit pretty well with the direction the internet has been going.

  • by SeaFox (739806) on Tuesday May 29, 2012 @06:26PM (#40149301)

    t would be a world where everyone is better informed and not parroting the opinion of a talking head they saw last night.

  • Re:What's email? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by scrib (1277042) on Tuesday May 29, 2012 @06:29PM (#40149331)

    By that logic, email existed before the telephone. They just called it a "telegram."

  • by maxwell demon (590494) on Tuesday May 29, 2012 @06:32PM (#40149379) Journal

    E-mail will replace regular mail.

    As long as you cannot deliver physical goods over the net, regular mail will exist, even if it is reduced mostly to parcels.

  • Re:Well (Score:4, Insightful)

    by QuantumLeaper (607189) on Tuesday May 29, 2012 @06:33PM (#40149401) Journal
    Don't forget the 'Paperless Office', they have predicting ever since the invention of the computer. Last I look, most offices produce more paper not than they did 10 years ago.
  • Re:That's funny (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MightyMartian (840721) on Tuesday May 29, 2012 @06:35PM (#40149421) Journal

    If you're trying to market yet another social networking chat box, you need to convince people email is on the way out.

  • Re:What's email? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by muon-catalyzed (2483394) on Tuesday May 29, 2012 @06:42PM (#40149521)
    > messages between a couple of users on facebook is email

    Facebook, Google Wave, AOL, ICQ, Yahoo messenger.. services like these come and go, the SMTP email stays. More importantly email is an established open standard and it is part of the very blueprint of the Internet, the RFCs. And unlike Facebook or Google services, email is not controlled by some messages monetizing 3rd parties.
  • by Sancho (17056) * on Tuesday May 29, 2012 @07:10PM (#40149847) Homepage

    See, I think that email is broken, and that we've been patching it for over a decade to try to maintain usability. All the spam, all the broken clients, all the broken servers, all the was built when there was a great deal of trust between providers, and when that trust was broken, email was broken.

  • No (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Eponymous Hero (2090636) on Tuesday May 29, 2012 @07:24PM (#40149981)
    any article whose headline is a question can be answered "no."
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 29, 2012 @07:25PM (#40149995)

    Yes, that will work well... until Yammer, etc, falls out of use and all of a sudden your "corporate memory" is locked behind an inaccessible gateway or simply lost forever due to obsolescence. I'd rather setup my own corporate NNTP server if I was concerned about long-term storage and retrieval. If I was concerned about ease of use, a slick interface, and a heavy dose of cachet, I might choose... Yammer.

    And you're confusing the e-mail GUI with "e-mail". You're forgetting the large stack of protocols and software beneath it all, a stack that has proved remarkably resilient--yet sufficient--despite being quite obviously clunky for all the tasks put to it. If Yammer is to stick around it's will inevitably be forced by corporations to export its log of data as e-mail archives.

  • by Animats (122034) on Tuesday May 29, 2012 @08:25PM (#40150531) Homepage

    Low usage by 18-24 year olds may be due to heavy unemployment in that group. Social networking is fine for getting people together to go out, but if you have to organize anything complex, you need a more persistent medium. Try organizing something more complex than meeting at a bar over SMS. Even trying to organize something over Facebook is tough. It's fine for casual chat, but the "everything scrolls off" approach is no good when there are actual tasks to do and track.

    For big, complex, highly structured projects, there are decent collaboration tools. Open source projects have had forums systems coupled to bug trackers coupled to source code management for years. There are comparable systems for specific problems, like Autodesk Vault for mechanical engineers and Alienbrain for game developers. Tools for medium-sized loose collaboration have been built, but haven't developed big followings. (Google Wave was supposed to be usable for that.) Those still tend to be run via e-mail.

    There's also the problem that single-source "cloud" services tend to go away after a few years. If you were using Google Wave for anything important, you were screwed. This sounds like a case for an open source project, but open source will never get "user friendly" right.

  • pop quiz! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by sdnoob (917382) on Tuesday May 29, 2012 @08:39PM (#40150625)

    what do facebook, myspace, twitter, google plus, blogspot, linkedin, flickr, skype, itunes, msn (and other) instant messengers, youtube, and just about every other web service (free and subscription-based) have in common?


    you need a bloody email address to signup for an account.

    email ain't going anywhere.

  • by jedidiah (1196) on Tuesday May 29, 2012 @08:59PM (#40150833) Homepage

    While that can all be terribly annoying, you aren't going to get rid of any of those problems simply by trying to run away from email. Those problems will simply follow you to the "next thing".

    "Legacy" communications channels are already plagued by similar problems.

  • It won't go away. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ZorinLynx (31751) on Tuesday May 29, 2012 @09:43PM (#40151163) Homepage

    E-mail will not go away as long as the Internet maintains its structure where no single entity controls it.

    Think about it: What do you need in order to sign up for a Facebook, Twitter, Steam, or pretty much any online account? An e-mail address.

    Right now the only truly guaranteed way two random people online can contact each other is e-mail. Not everyone has a Facebook account. Not everyone is on Twitter, or on AIM. But everyone online has an e-mail address, even if they don't use it very much, because you NEED one to sign up for these services! :)

  • by rtb61 (674572) on Tuesday May 29, 2012 @10:38PM (#40151521) Homepage

    You are confusing email, the protocol, with email the communications medium. The protocol needs tightening to improve reliability and security but that has very little to do with the communications medium. Email is quite simply the electronic version of snail mail, a more formal means of communication where the sender and the recipient can keep a clear record of communications. In fact over time emails are becoming much more formal, and far more resembling old world letters than original rather informal email.

    Email will continue and thrive as people will continue to require formal track able communications. It is likely that the protocol will tighten up over time.

  • Re:That's funny (Score:5, Insightful)

    by witherstaff (713820) on Tuesday May 29, 2012 @11:18PM (#40151687) Homepage
    You jest but can you even sign up for a social network WITHOUT some email verification?
  • by ZombieBraintrust (1685608) on Tuesday May 29, 2012 @11:36PM (#40151759)
    Chances are your email doesn't need to be connected to the outside world. My favorite email account is my work one. It contains no spam. Just emails from my coworkers. It is a closed world of usefulness. Of course some people have to interface with customers or vendors. Maybe don't use email for that.

It is the quality rather than the quantity that matters. - Lucius Annaeus Seneca (4 B.C. - A.D. 65)