E-mail Replacement Idea

In a previous post, I briefly commented on blogs as an e-mail replacement. It was an off-the-cuff remark but I started thinking about it more. Perhaps it could end spam?

This afternoon one of my colleagues came by my desk and commented on the RSS reader I had open. She wondered if it was a nice looking skin for Outlook (it wasn’t, but it did look nice because the reader was running on my Linux box rather than Windows). But the comment struck me because at first glance the RSS reader does look like essentially the same thing as an e-mail application. Repeat, what if we all begin blogging instead of e-mailing?

It takes no effort to imagine everyone having a blog and thus RSS feed. Rather than send response e-mails back and forth in conversation, trackbacks could accomplish the job. You’d only add a feed to your reader if it was someone you wanted to communicate with (trackback with). Instead of e-mail addresses, we’d have feed subscriptions.

The reverse could be true as well, you could flag categories or posts within your feed as private or visible only to particular acquaintances (friends, colleagues, etc.) perhaps using xfn features or some kind of social networking system. Conversations and subjects could be tracked by tagging them instead of creating an e-mail folder fungal multiplication horror.

Web sites already exist that let people aggregate feeds into custom pages, so that would take care of replacing web-based e-mail. A number of desktop applications are interfaces for blog posting without logging into the blog’s web interface. Perhaps those tools could be combined with the readers. Finally, instead of sending an e-mail, everyone’d just post to their blogs.

What is appealing about this idea? Unless I’m missing something, It seems like a rather easy way to eradicate spam and for some unfortunate OS users, decrease other contagions (unless of course you choose to subscribe to a spammer’s feed). The trick is, I think, getting enough people to blog in order to change the dominant communication method from e-mailing to blogging.

One Reply to “E-mail Replacement Idea”

  1. Well….

    First, blogging is more like publishing a paper than writing a note. If I want to write you, I don’t need to publish it for the whole world to see. Yes, through security you can control who sees what content. However, what you are doing is using a publishing system and then hacking it into a messaging system. Possible? Yes. Ideal? No.

    Second, with blogging, the intention is to leave content available on a server forever. While this might satisfy US archiving requirements I don’t think people are going to be happy about leaving their deep dark secrets (sent to one person) on a blogging server forever and hope that the security always works for time immemorial.

    Third, email has many problems besides spam. Encryption, for one, is a major problem with email today. It is just too difficult for the masses to adopt it. I guess you could handle this through the security system mentioned above.

    Fourth, people love the offline convenience of email composing. You could compose in an HTML editor but how many people want to do that? If you use something else, then when you connect it is not just hitting send/receive but rather you must setup everything when you are online. This moves more work from being able to be done offline to requiring it to be done online.

    I do agree that we need a replacement for email. Spam, authentication, encryption/privacy, delivery notifications are all major issues needing to be solved. However, I think there is already a replacement out there. Check out http://TrulyMail.com and you will see what I mean.

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