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What Would a Post-Email World Look Like? 314

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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  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 29, 2012 @06:07PM (#40149043)

    It isn't going away soon.

    • If anything, I think that email will lean more and more towards the gchat/facebook chat direction, where instead of having discrete "emails" we will have "conversations".
      • by Jerry Atrick ( 2461566 ) on Tuesday May 29, 2012 @06:30PM (#40149341)

        My email has been 'a conversation' since the I first used it in the early 90's. Maybe with some of the more crippled web based services people are now suffering with it's not so obvious. Stuff like Gmail feels like a step back from the threaded clients I've used for all that time, too much missing or poorly implemented.

        When people ask whether email is going away I'm completely dumbfounded. It ain't broke and IMHO works better than the alternatives where absolute, instant response isn't needed. Mostly it's not noticeably slower anyway. When I desperately need a little more speed IM does a good imitation of a very poorly featured email exchange.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Sancho ( 17056 ) *

          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.

          • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

            by Anonymous Coward

            sounds like a user problem to me. I've had email since 1992 and never had any of those problems. noobs, gotta love 'em.

          • by hobarrera ( 2008506 ) on Tuesday May 29, 2012 @08:13PM (#40150413) Homepage

            With more and more servers and clients every day, broken ones tend to die faster. Except huge corporate sponsored ones (yes, I'm looking at you, Outlook!).
            In any case, if something DID replace email someday, you'd still have broken implementations, and many of the same issues. Maybe phishing may fade, though phising is really a user/educational problem, unrelated to the protocol.

          • 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.

          • 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.

          • That's not an e-mail problem, that's a communication problem. I get spam snail-mail that pretends to be important and from my insurance company. I get voicemails that start with, "This is an important message for ..."

            The problems with e-mail are the same problems we have with phones, texts, snail-mail and any other type of communication (photo-bombing, anyone?). Part of the population will always try to take advantage of the rest of the population. Ignore that then look at the rest.

            E-mail is a good form of

        • Granted I think I've only used Thunderbird or Outlook in recent history (with some Eudora thrown in) but I've never found the conversation threading in any of the desktop clients to be as good as Gmail's. Maybe I'm missing something...

      • by JaredOfEuropa ( 526365 ) on Tuesday May 29, 2012 @06:40PM (#40149497) Journal
        I think you are right, though the key differentiator is not chatty vs. discrete messages. Chat done right can solve a number of problems that email has:

        - Email sucks as an archive. It's fine to store personal emails just for yourself, but when you dig deep and assess how much critical corporate knowledge is locked away in this multitude of personal archives of all employees, you'll be in for a shock. A Twitter-like chat system for corporations (like Yammer) will retain that knowledge for the right group, including its future members. I find that only a small part of my conversation is actually really private between me and someone else. Most of it will be relevant for my team, for another team, for a special interest group within the company, or for the company as a whole. In a corporate Twitter, asking for knowledge is automatically the same as sharing it, as soon as an answer is given. In email, any answer is lost for everyone but yourself.

        - Email is fine for communicating 1 to 1 or 1 to many, but it is a poor vehicle for many-to-many conversations. Chat systems (again citing Yammer as an example... by the way I have nothing to do with Yammer except that my current client uses it) can solve this by having private, ad-hoc chat groups in which participants can be invited or drop out as needed. New joiners will see a clear, linear history of what has already been discussed, instead of a steaming pile of replies-to-replies-to-replies in multiple sub-threads, all intertwined in a single email exchange.

        In our team, we've tried sticking to the rule that forbids the use of email for anything that will still be relevant one week from the day of sending. The idea is that any such messages belong to the corporate memory, which means email is out as a vehicle for storing it. Instead, people use Yammer or email links to documents stored in a central repository. It worked out quite well, both improving recall from our corporate memory, keeping everyone on the same page and aware of each others' work, and improving the quality of discussions by electronic means.
        But we too found that it is extremely hard to break the email habit. One thing that email still has going for it in the corporation is that everyone has it, and everyone is expected to read it several times a day. You might get told of for missing an important email, but being told off for missing an important discussion on some social media thingy? We're not quite there yet.
        • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 29, 2012 @06:48PM (#40149601)

          In most organizations, the whole email reply chain exists so that workerbees can summon the higher authorities. "I'm gunna cc: my boss!" "Now you've done it, I'm cc:ing my boss' boss!". The bosses can then digest the conversation and come to a decision at their leisure. I have no idea how that would work with a chat/IM system.

          We've had good luck using Basecamp; it is essentially email except with a web interface to locate previous conversations, documents, etc.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward

          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 sof

        • by devent ( 1627873 )

          What the hell? A MDA (Mail Delivery Agent, like sendmail or postfix) can be configured to save a copy of each Email your employees send to a central archive. Also you have Mailing Lists for Many to Many communications.

          It's really funny how a bunch of "hippies" aka Open Source Developer (go to any project like Groovy, Apache projects, Linux, etc) can solve all the "disadvantages" of Email you complain about.

          Archive: just configure your MDA so send each email send or received to a central email archive server

      • I doubt that; email is pretty versatile, and sometimes the latency is a good thing. Consider the following:
        1. I can download some email, then read and reply to those emails when I do not have Internet access.
        2. Sometimes I need some time to think about how to answer a message, and instant messaging systems encourage quick answers (and people sometimes worry if you take too long to reply).
        3. Email does not require any particular kind of network or even infrastructure to send; there are places in the world where ema
        • ..I think email is going to stick around for a long time, probably forever, without merging with instant messaging. IM is great for low-latency conversations, but there is more to communication than that.

          I was agreeing with this...hence me saying "If anything". Apparently my attempts to express skepticism of the OP (Email is going away soon) were not properly communicated...

  • 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!
    • 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.

    • by houghi ( 78078 )

      In our company we still use telegrams.

    • Re:That's funny (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 29, 2012 @06:45PM (#40149569)

      My thoughts, exactly. There might be a different PROTOCOL, but there will ALWAYS be email. I contact my friends via email (because not everything is appropriate for IM or TXT), every website requires it for validation and registration. And, most importantly, I go through hundreds (500-ish) of emails a day at work just for our engineering/dev aliases and dealing directly with our clients. Quite simply, without email, I wouldn't remain in contact with all the people I have where they're good friends, but not people I talk to every week or even every month. And what we do for a living would absolutely not work.

    • I'm still waiting to see what life is like in a post telephone world, a post newspaper world a post pen-and-paper world, a post horse world, a post rocks and sticks world, etc.

      I just want my paperless office and a flying car, is that too much to ask?

  • As long as... (Score:2, Insightful)

    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.

    • 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 qwerty shrdlu ( 799408 ) on Tuesday May 29, 2012 @06:42PM (#40149539)

        Kevin Costner could deliver your messages by hand.

        And seriously, things might have to go that wrong before email goes away.

      • by houghi ( 78078 )

        One thing that gets much better results then emailing each other is walking up to their desk (without sending a meeting request, mind you) and talk to them. Yes! In person.

        Instead of doing the 20 questions (meaning 20 mails) I have a conversation. Sometimes people are too far away (e.g. in another country) and then I call them. On the phone. We have a conversation of 5-15 minutes and we are BOTH clear what we want and need.

        Sure, sometimes we need a trail and one send an email like: According to our conversa

        • ...and often the conversation is to organise meetings of groups of people. Groups that may first be simultaneously available at the time you arrange. That's true even in offices. I'll agree that automatically picking email for every conversation in a workplace is insane though.

          Phone calls and personal meetings are not always interchangeable with email, they serve different, if overlapping purposes.

        • Yeah, that works real well for a topic that is important but has no particular urgency with a colleague who is busy doing something that is both important and urgent. Of course the fact that whatever you discuss is subject to the interpretation and memory of the people involved in the conversations means that it is really useful as well.
          Having said that, there are definitely many exchanges of information that take place by email that should take place in person. On the other hand there are many exchanges o
  • Well (Score:5, Funny)

    by Spad ( 470073 ) <slashdot@spad.[ ]uk ['co.' in gap]> on Tuesday May 29, 2012 @06:11PM (#40149089) Homepage

    Presumably it will join the keyboard and mouse, which have apparently been just about to become obsolete for most of the last 15 years.

    Not that it will matter, of course, because the Internet is mere weeks away from becoming catastrophically overloaded & falling apart and it has been for years.

    • 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.
      • Yep. I've worked in two "paperless offices" so far, and what happened was that people ended up having to print out everything anyway. For one thing, it's easier to get someone to sign a sheet of paper in blue ink and just tuck it away in an HR folder than it is to implement safe digital signatures most places. If you're having a discussion about a complex help desk ticket, and you want someone to take a look at the specific ticket but it's nearly identical to twelve other tickets, you have to write down
      • by garcia ( 6573 )

        I don't know where you work but I haven't printed more than a handful of pages in the last 5 years which were actually necessary to do my job.

        In the two places I speak of, there's a culture of sharing information via e-mail/PDF or, in my current role, via Google Docs.

        I can't imagine going to a job which didn't act that way.

      • Paperless Office (Score:5, Informative)

        by ZombieBraintrust ( 1685608 ) on Tuesday May 29, 2012 @10:35PM (#40151501)
        Paperless Offices work great. I have worked in one for 6 years. I print one document out a year that I then sign and fax to my consulting firms HR department. The client is an insurance company. The really experienced people bring out photos of what the place looked like before they stated going paperless some 15 to 20 years ago. Desks after desk covered in folders filled with paper. They would show us conference rooms that used to be storage for filing cabinets. The place was dirty with paper. Paperless for an insurance company means the following. When you buy insurance from an agent the agent types your info into a computer. When you get in a accident the claim handler pulls up that information and adds more information to the database. At no point is any paper produced internally. Paper leaves the company in the form of bills, policy documents, and ads. Paper comes in the system via mail from police departments, vendors, and policy holders. This paper is given to a data entry person and inputted into the database. It may get scanned. If the company is not legally required to hang on to it the paper is trashed. This is what paperless office means.
      • by Tom ( 822 )

        Mostly because people are printing out e-mails to take them to meetings.

        The iPad does more for the paperless office vision than all other inventions of the past 10 years combined. The one thing it doesn't allow for is spreading out all your stuff in front of you to look important (managers) or get an overview (non-managers).

    • by zlives ( 2009072 )

      my virtual reality glove and glasses are the only input method i need...

  • 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: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."

    • I think e-mail would be defined as having two features, similar to the postal service. In a properly configured system, a message would never be lost. It would either be delivered or returned to the sender. It would also allow routing through multiple systems (and not necessarily TCP/IP ones) in order to arrive at its destination.

      Instant messaging doesn't count as e-mail because most IM systems don't guarantee delivery, so you're lucky if your failed message doesn't get lost forever. They are also ce

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

    A guy can dream. . .

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by SeaFox ( 739806 )

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

  • Natural progressions (Score:5, Interesting)

    by girlintraining ( 1395911 ) on Tuesday May 29, 2012 @06:17PM (#40149159)

    E-mail will replace regular mail. It's been a slow process, but the Post Office (in the US and Britain; I can't speak for other countries) is starting to cut back; The majority of what is being sent out are physical goods and junk mail (advertising). Many people here have switched to online bill pay, and most banks offer automatic payment if the company (rarely) doesn't do bill to credit card.

    Party lines gave way to single user land lines, and single user landlines gave way to cell phones. Cell phones are now giving way to text-based near realtime communication like text messages. And cell phones will eventually transition to packet-switched radio communications using VoIP and QoS.

    The only thing slowing down these technologies are companies that don't want to lose the massive profits they're getting from already deployed infrastructure; They employ a wide variety of legal and financial methods to ensure that competing/replacing technology as slowly as possible.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      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.

    • by Nethead ( 1563 )

      The only thing slowing down these technologies are companies that don't want to lose the massive profits they're getting from already deployed infrastructure; They employ a wide variety of legal and financial methods to ensure that competing/replacing technology as slowly as possible.

      What is slowing it down is the massive cost of the infrastructure that needs to be amortized. Deployed 3G equipment is five years old. Building out literally tens of thousands of sites costs a lot of capitol and a whole lot o

  • Not wave (Score:4, Insightful)

    by frisket ( 149522 ) < minus herbivore> 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.

    • by 2.7182 ( 819680 )
      I never understood Wave. And I think that was typical of the problem Google had with it - no one really knew what the main idea was. I understood a few key things it could do, which were cool, but I am not sure if it was ahead of its time or if it just really was an ill defined mish mosh of concepts.
      • Wave was an excellent tool. We used it intensely, and it was great. We love to rganize trips and hikes in the desert. There is a core of people that almost always joins and several others that come in every so often. It was great to have a tool that lets add people, organize, tidy up, add maps, lists, links, polls etc etc. It was possible to work together at the same time and it would highlight the new or unread areas and who modified them. Doing the same over email + a shared Google Doc Spreadsheet now is
  • At this point the text based email will slowly be phased out as multimedia video and audio are phased in until email is unrecognizable. Skype for instance may be the email replacement.

  • 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.

    • I wish I had mod points. This is one of the most insightful AC posts I have ever seen on Slashdot.
    • Haven't spam and spam countermeasures already made the effort of running your own mailserver unreasonable? At least I've heard that you'll be basically blocked either by default or after a while.

      Add to that malware which just loves the idea of a spare mailserver whose owner works elsewhere most of the time and the fact that it's hard to even get ONE static IP these days and suddenly the current system is already the domain of large organizations (and a few super-nerds who are there mostly through inertia.)

      • If you have the brains to set up a mail server, setting up SpamAssassin is pretty easy.

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

          by DigiShaman ( 671371 ) on Tuesday May 29, 2012 @07:15PM (#40149899) Homepage

          Step 1: Setup an e-mail server.
          Step 2. Create PTR (reverse DNS record).
          Step 3. Create an SPF record (TXT DNS record)
          Step 4 (optional): Use a hosted e-mail security service to filter the SPAM for you.
          Step 5 (optional): White list SMTP traffic only coming from your hosted e-mail service provider. Block all outbound SMTP traffic from inside your local IP subnet.

          Results: Virtually little to no spam and no chance of being blacklisted on an RBL list from an infected machine inside your network.

          Yes. I do this for a living as a network consultant.

    • by addie ( 470476 )

      Exactly right.

      I constantly harass my friends to stop contacting me via facebook (which I enjoy for other reasons) and just use email instead. I can keep all my messages centralized, filed, and secured. The FB messaging service is, of course, a complete joke. But even if it was brilliantly designed and my privacy fears allayed, what happens when FB disappears and the next big thing comes along? Are all those messages gone? Will there be a way to export them in an open format? Somehow I doubt it.

      Email is a fu

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

    by RJFerret ( 1279530 ) on Tuesday May 29, 2012 @06:21PM (#40149209) Homepage

    I don't email directly anymore, I post on G+, recipients receive it in whatever means they favor, email, text notice, online, G+ account, whatever. If they don't have a google account, it goes to their email.

    So yeah, email has become transparent to me. I receive next to no correspondence through it.

    That is the beauty of improved technology, making my life easier. It's been so horrible since we've moved away from landline phones and two standard methods of contact became mail/phone/fax/mobile/voicemail/SMS/email/web contact form/Twitter and who knows through which of those you'd get a response.

    I'm glad to return to the one stop shop.

    • by Mex ( 191941 )

      I don't email directly anymore, I post on G+, recipients receive it in whatever means they favor, email, text notice, online, G+ account, whatever. If they don't have a google account, it goes to their email.

      What happens if Google decides they don't like you and you get banned from their service?

  • by TheRecklessWanderer ( 929556 ) on Tuesday May 29, 2012 @06:26PM (#40149287) Journal
    One of the things I really like about email, and it may at least be partially true unless your with gmail or hotmail, that you know no one is sniffing through your data. I know that I may dillusional, but at least I'm pretty sure that marketing guys won't be filtering my email looking for ways to sell me things they think i'll want. I don't understand all these people that are willing to give up all their information for coupons and discounts. I guess i'm just old.
  • Google didn't pull the plug on Wave because it didn't work, it just didn't fit into their business model. The wave protocol is federated, while all other Google services are centralized, Google relies upon all traffic coming through them for skimming revenue from their users. This is why they killed wave and even when it was style in hype mode refused to release a user installable client (free or otherwise). However, the ideas behind wave, most importantly that it allows rich real-time communication with
  • "integrated communication stream"? Is this the latest in manager-speak bullshit? That being said, there are some needs that today's email, even with great interfaces like gmail, either doesn't meet or meets awkwardly and with annoying hacks. Group discussions still have the tendency to turn into a clusterfuck, even with gmail-style nice thread view. And it would be nice if I could, say, create a category of "XXX class homework 4 submissions" and give some way for my students to submit directly to that categ
    • "integrated communication stream"? Is this the latest in manager-speak bullshit?


    • And it would be nice if I could, say, create a category of "XXX class homework 4 submissions" and give some way for my students to submit directly to that category so I don't have to manually assign labels to all 45 submissions, and maybe share all submissions with the other TA's (the only alternative for me being blackboard, and I refuse to rely on that pile of bloated rotting carcasses)...

      Add + and a label to your email address before the @ sign. Filter based on this (maybe forward to an email list or some such). I honestly don't understand why more people don't know about this. Or go and create your own mailing list with its own address - again possible with minimal hassle.

  • All these other schemes tend to cluster around particular servers or owned infrastructure. Facebook, Skype, Twitter, Google's stuff, etc live and die on the company supporting it. If Google had made good on their promises and released their federated Wave servers, that might have been one launching point where something new could have come around. (Wave in and of itself didn't seem that great, but offered an reasonable point of more complex integration.)

    But until some actual, open system that supports de

    • What do you mean if Google made good on their promise? They did release all the necessary code to run Wave servers.

      • Huh, I guess they did. I know they were holding out on that, for some reason, back when people actually were interested in Wave and Google was still promoting it.

        Is anybody doing anything with it? As heavyweight as it is, with Google effectively dropping it I'm not sure how many people would actually embrace it lone-wolf style.

  • I can't see it "going away", globally... in every niche area.

    A system whereby you enclose a message and propose a recipient or recipients,
    and both sender and recipient have copies that can be saved. I can't see that,
    going away entirely, without something that addresses everything that email
    can do AND fix everything it can't do, or does poorly.

    As far as mainstream for the 'everyman', it has already gone away folks.
    You just haven't realized it yet.


  • by unimacs ( 597299 ) on Tuesday May 29, 2012 @06:39PM (#40149485)
    I think the older generation like myself still prefer email to texting. Personally, I like email because an immediate response is not expected. I'm much funnier when I have time to think about it. ;-)

    I'm also less likely to say something I'll regret later and there is a record. In my opinion there will always be room for that type of communication.

    Younger people seem to prefer texting or Skype because communication is more real-time and it's easier to include more people. It also allows them to be braver than they would be over the phone. This is not always good.
    • OMFG... faxes.... as a former residential real estate agent... I cringed daily as I had
      to keep up the dead tree ritual to make everyone happy.

      I was fully equipped for pdf and docusign. But there were still a few steps that almost
      everyone universally demanded dead trees be involved.

      I hope the tablet revolution has changed that. Any current RE's? Is your MLS at least
      browser friendly now? And you don't have to print those out too.


    • While I'm old and I like my email, the one good thing about IM-like systems is that group chats easily contain their context in the scrollback, and when dealing with professionals, can be kept concise and on-topic with a fairly large number of participants. Email lists tend toward late responses and thread fragmentation given the same usage scenario.

  • looked like google wave. But I guess that wasn't future enough.

    Now that I thought about it for a couple of minutes, the future of e-mail consists solely of the X-Thread-Id header, which will finally allow to properly sort the friggin' archives. A quick google says that X-Thread-Id has already been proposed by someone in '09!

    Once implemented, it will make e-mail 'feature-complete', which translates into english roughly as 'old, boring and forgotten'. After that it will be mostly impossible to get work

  • Email is for work
    But for non work communication its Facebook
    10 years ago all the stupid jokes and pictures were emailed to friends. Today they are shared on Facebook

  • by rossdee ( 243626 )

    Its a bit like those History/NATGEO programs about 'Life After People' - the whole question is, what happened to the people will determine what it would look like.
    The main thing that will cause the end of email is a disaster that would wipe out civilization. (Gamma Ray Burst,, dinosaur killer asteroid, supervolcano, genetically engineered plague, or Vogon Constructor fleet etc.

  • Email has a human form factor appropriate for non-audio human communication.

    Email is a direct decedent of chipped-stone and clay-tablets. Humans' need a language (audio, visual ...), and society needs records and documents.

    IOW: Written email (stone, clay, paper ...) will continue to evolve, until societies crumble and humans go extinct.

    What is the next step in societies creating records and documents for transmission (print-share-keep mail, telegraph, email ...)? Maybe we will call it eGraph or ether-ima

  • 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 hobarrera ( 2008506 ) on Tuesday May 29, 2012 @08:10PM (#40150387) Homepage

    Who's been predicting the death of email for years? I haven't heard of anything like that, nor have I noticed any reduction in the usage of email.
    On the contrary, with smartphones, I've noticed IM and email are slowly replacing SMSs.

  • by Doc Ruby ( 173196 ) on Tuesday May 29, 2012 @08:11PM (#40150391) Homepage Journal

    Email is actually an excellent form of communication. It's so flexible that every realtime and async messaging system could be usefully transacted over email (and often is), at least every message could use the email data formats (Subject/To/From/Cc/Bcc/Attachment/Body fields, MIME headers, X-whatever arbitrary tuples, etc). In fact every message sent with at least one human endpoint should be transcribable into RFC822/etc emails as a test of its utility and completeness. I had a friend in the 1990s who firmly believed TCP/IP should be restandardized with every packet required to be formatted as a separate email. That's too far (unless packets were bigger), but not wholly wrongheaded.

    I hope email never goes away. I do hope that email gets much better message databases and presentation UIs, better integration with non-email messaging (in the same, integrated messaging systems). For example I'd like my every Slashdot post (and other Web transactions) to be indexed in my own storage in email format, and I'd like my emails to be able to HTTP POST/GET/PUT from my MUA. I hope that email finally gets better standardized structure of message bodies, especially for quoting by pointer with attribution, and more nonlinear structures of message sequences. Especially branching and quoting multiple previous generation messages, as well as from separate threads, in a single reply, which maintain coherence among threads.

    But that's just better email, not post-email. More and better email would make the world a better place. I hope it does.

  • 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.

  • 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 Tony Isaac ( 1301187 ) on Tuesday May 29, 2012 @11:35PM (#40151753) Homepage

    ...invites you to "Email article."

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