I know it’s ancient history as far as the Internet is concerned (19 July 2004), but I thought Mark Hall’s “The End of E-mail” was worth noting. I’m not saying I agree with Hall, but I totally understand his frustrations.
So-called realists out there will dismiss these lamentations by saying that despite all of its problems, PC e-mail is too popular to be abandoned. Perhaps. But those old enough to remember Usenet know that even a good, useful communications tool can be abandoned once it becomes overrun by hucksters, pornographers and other pond scum floating around the Internet. Usenet is still out there, but its popularity is near zero.
Well, the so-called realists will counter, e-mail is still far too useful for companies to abandon. That’s what these same folks said about IBM’s Selectric and the floppy disk drive. Technology is abandoned whenever cost-benefit evaluations determine it’s no longer worth keeping around. And we’re getting mighty close to the day when PC-based e-mail is determined to have a bigger downside than upside.