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Email Is Not Broken

There has been a trend recently of bashing email.  

It’s all the rage these days to proclaim that email is “broken” or needs to be “tamed” or even that email needs to go away and be replaced with something new.

I couldn’t disagree more.

First of all, email is already tamed.  Spam filters are better than ever.  Every major email app and every major webmail service has fantastic auto-sorting filters baked in, and they work fantastically.

Email was, and still is, a brilliant innovation.  It’s simplicity and durability are without question.  

It’s still around for a reason.  It just works.

It’s also an open standard, which is vital, and which allows for it to work cross-platform, across devices, services, etc.

It has also come to serve as a universal digital identity for most people, which is a feature that goes beyond it’s original, simple messaging utility.  We use our primary email address to tie into all of our other online services.

If email didn’t exist, we’d be clamoring for it.

What can replace email?  A walled garden like the old days of AOL, or the brave new world of Facebook and Twitter?  Where everyone must belong to the same service in order to communicate with each other?

Again, the beauty of email being an open standard allows users the freedom to breach these walled gardens.

I’m not saying that attempts shouldn’t be made to improve email, or the experience of email.  Innovation is innovation.  If something better and previously unimaginable is invented by a genius, so be it.

But to me, the necessity for an email replacement does not exist.

Google made an admirable attempt with Google Wave.  Which functioned like a walled garden, yet was open.  It’s died, but it showed promise.  What killed Google Wave was it’s complexity, and frankly, despite it’s interesting feature set, it wasn’t enough to lure people away from old fashioned email.

Simplicity usually wins.  For a reason.

Email isn’t broken, has already been tamed, and it isn’t going anywhere.

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