The Decline and Fall of E-Mail

I have in my computer every e-mail message I have sent or received since 1992. Minus the obvious spam, this database comes to about half a million messages from people as varied (or similar, if you think about it) as Larry Ellison and Larry Flynt. But lately my e-mail seems to be dying. Yours is, too.

What’s happening to e-mail is complex but comes down to changing contexts and competing media. Back in 1992 communication for me meant e-mail (which at that time for me was cc:mail, MCI Mail, and Internet mail), snail mail, Usenet newsgroups, bulletin board systems like The WELL, telephone, and fax. Today the mix has changed almost completely and I have Internet […]

Don't be a Facebook whore

Facebook AdvertisingJust in case you ever sue me, you should know that I have every e-mail I have ever sent or received since 1992. That’s crazy from a legal standpoint, I know, but I can’t help myself. I’m obsessive-compulsive that way. But having a clear view of 16+ years of mail amounting to more than four gigabytes of mainly ascii text gives me a sobering sense of how poorly e-mail does the job lately compared to its glory days of, say, 1999.

More than ninety percent of my mail today by volume is spam. Back in 1999 spam was about 15 percent of my mail. Of course I am in large part to […]