inessential by Brent Simmons


The folks at Front tell us that email will last forever.

I was thinking about how people complain that they can’t send links in Twitter direct messages. And I was thinking about a system where you could send links privately.

In the ideal situation that system would be owned by nobody and would be based on open standards. The message wouldn’t pass through any one specific service.

That system is email, of course. It’s a miracle.

Yet we hate it so much.

There’s no technical reason why that specific use case — message with link, no subject line, quick to find contact, quick to write and send — couldn’t be handled by email. The issue is user interface.

It continues to surprise me that email app vendors don’t think about the way people communicate now. They may think about the way people communicate by email but they don’t think about how people communicate in general.

Maybe it’s an issue of economics. If you write an email app your best case scenario is, apparently, to get acqui-hired and then discontinue the app.

* * *

Another huge problem with email is spam. I get a few hundred a day.

Think back to 2004. Bill Gates said that spam would be a thing of the past in two years. That would have been 2006 — eight years ago. It’s worse now than ever.

I get much less Twitter spam than I get email spam. But the downfall of any system where anybody can send a message to anybody is that anybody will send a message to anybody.

It makes me cranky.