This week’s Loose Wire column is about the future of email:
E-MAIL IS GOOD. Very good: Of all the things that started out with the Internet it’s about the only survivor (ever heard of Gopher? Archie? Telnet?). E-mail works because it’s simple. You send e-mail, you receive it: Two standards, or protocols. People communicating with each other, sending text, pictures, attachments, falling in love, arguing, writing columns. Looking back, nearly all of us must wonder how we managed without it.
But these days e-mail is looking a bit frayed around the edges. Virus writers have found that e-mail is the best way to spread their creations, forcing us to place blockades on our inbox to keep the nasty stuff at bay. Fake e-mails lure the unwary into giving up their bank-account passwords and PINs. Then there’s spam, which now accounts for more than half–sometimes a lot more than half–of all e-mail. The joy of e-mail has been tarnished by the realization that not everything that lands in our inbox is lovingly crafted by someone who has only good things in mind for us. Those days are gone. So what’s ahead?