Rival technologies and technologists sure love to hate email. Without naming names, messaging platforms often define themselves as the solution to email, as if email represented a major problem.
OK, I’ll name names: Slack.
Witness this quote from The Verge:
Slack hasn’t killed email just yet [emphasis mine], but the new refurbished post system adds a major feature that was lacking in earlier versions of the software. Now, rather than minimizing the app to compose an email that collated longer thoughts, you’ll be able to draft and edit more complex and detailed messages in Slack itself…
It helps to understand that Slack and its messaging brethren have a financial incentive to “kill email” (whatever that means) while no private company controls email as a platform. As a result, we only hear about the strengths of email as a platform from companies that indirectly make money off of email, such as ISPs (ad revenue) and ESPs (deployment fees).
Compared to any other messaging platform, email has a lot going for it:
- Near-total penetration
- High degree of interoperability (you can read an email from any ISP on just about any other ISP)
- Wide range of message types supported
- Oh, yeah, it’s free
However, since email has no business model, as such, it seems amateurish in comparison with the Slacks of the world. Indeed, email standards have evolved over time, thus lacking the consistency of vision that newer platforms generally have. Despite the encomiums for the recently-deceased creator of email, no single person or business entity gets to take credit for email as we know it.
What this means is that while email has any number of detractors who will get paid to weaken it, it has no overarching champion to defend it. Think about that the next time you read any article that includes the words “to finally kill email.”