Email is Dead, Long Live Email

The Register | 01 Jun 06

Back in 1972, by some accounts, a new form of communication known as email was born. It was a practical implementation of electronic messaging that was first seen on local timeshare computers in the 1960s…

Almost ten years later, in November 1981, Jonathan Postel published RFC 788 (later deprecated by RFC 821, also by Postel, and RFC 822 by David Crocker), thereby inventing the foundations of the Simple Mail Transport Protocol (SMTP) – a proposal that would revolutionize email again. Since that time, email has become as important an invention to the world as the telegraph and the telephone, and it has long been synonymous with the internet itself.

Twenty five years later, we still use essentially the same protocol. And email is a terrible mess. It’s dangerous, insecure, unreliable, mostly unwanted, and out-of-control…

It’s a giant ship on a dangerous collision course. All sorts of brilliant, talented people today put far more work into fixing SMTP in various ways (with anti-virus, anti-phishing technologies, anti-spam, anti-spoofing cumbersome encryption technologies, and much more) than could have ever been foreseen in 1981. But it’s all for naught.

All the work spent fixing email is like rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. Email is a sinking ship and it should be abandoned just as other insecure technologies like telnet, ftp and the beloved Usenet nntp were “abandoned” years ago.

I’m curious as to what you think? I agree that we are spending an enormous amount of resources on trying to solve email issues on an insecure protocol, but with the infinite use of “email” is there a solution on the horizon? Your comments would be greatly appreciated.

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