Email is dead
As much as I would hope above statement to be true, E-mail technology is not as dead as I would hope it to be. Mark Zuckerberg hopes to replace SMTP with Facebook which is preposterous as such basic Internet functionality must be completely open and not owned by some company.
Why E-mail should die
I am not in any ways against the concept of messaging over the Internet. It is more of a technical issue with the technologies that today makes it possible.
Today it is quite humorous to think back of the early days of Internet when a novice would send e-mail and then call to the recipient and ask if he’s got it yet. Sadly this is still happening all because e-mail is not reliable.
Sometimes an e-mail just disappears because the recipients’ mail server is offline. At other times the e-mail is marked as spam and filtered out. It happens that the recipient e-mail system (Hotmail) will place the e-mail in trash.
“Did you get my e-mail?
-No, let me check my trash bin”
The fact that almost every e-mail on the Internet is still sent in plain text, is a major security issue. Anyone could read e-mails that pass through a server on the Internet. The problem is that PGP that was created to solve this issue, was that complex that nobody uses it, and it never came to support HTML e-mails.
“Please don’t send me passwords by e-mail.”
Another major security issue is that there’s no way to confirm that the e-mail I just got came from you. It could say Facebook in the header, but really come from a malicious hacker that wants to steal my passwords.
Signing e-mails could also be solved with PGP but again, this is too complex and does not support HTML e-mails.
We need an e-mail protocol that is secure by default. If every e-mail would have to be signed we would soon get rid of spam and you would never get an e-mail from your bank, telling you to send them your credentials.
It is now 2011 and e-mail formatting still does not work appropriately. This is mostly Microsoft’s fault that decided some time ago that Outlook should render e-mails with Word and not Internet Explorer. The major cause was security issues with Internet Explorer that made it possible to execute code on the target computer.
This is ridiculous. The web is moving forward at a tremendous pace but e-mail formatting works the same as it did 10 years ago. No surprise why the young and hip people flee this technology platform.
A call for arms
E-mail is a technology that should die, or evolve. We need a new version of e-mail that is easily extendable, secure by default and support any version of HTML. Otherwise I’m sure that we in the future will not use e-mail for sending e-mail, but only to authenticate our identity against other systems, like Facebook, a purpose it never was designed for.