Ray Ozzie states that “if you’re doing a critical process in e-mail now, you won’t be doing it there for long…Think about the rate of increase of “noise” in email over the past two years, which is a very short time. Think about where we’ll be in as short as five years. Can you imagine?”
Ozzie’s alternative: “If you have work to do with others, online, try workspaces. There are many different types – from Groove if you like client-based mobility, to SharePoint if you like using Websites. No noise, no spam, tuned to save your time. Of course, you can’t give up on eMail, and likely never will. As time goes on, though, you’ll only visit eMail as a low-priority background task, much as you do when sorting through your physical mail at home.”
VentureBlog has an opposite view:
Email’s too important to die, or even change in any significant way, and tens of billions of dollars in entrepreneurial capital and hundreds of millions of votes can be brought to bear on the spam, noise and virus problems.
Too much spam in your mailbox? Use Bayesian filters, which have gotten pretty good, or just subscribe to a service in the cloud. Need an instant, one-time email address? Mailinator it! Overwhelmed by virus-generated mail? Use a simple virus filter or rules that recognize the pattern(s) of emails generated by said virus.
Sure, a few, tech-savvy people will get frustrated and try and use a different mechanism. Many will use webs of trusted whitelists (think sixdegrees on your address book) or challenge-response systems. A few will storm off to some new, secure communications mechanism, that authenticates senders and imposes a true cost on them. Even fewer will migrate to wholly new paradigms like “shared workspaces.”
But they’ll be back – email is the ultimate network effect, and we’re all locked in. Hundreds of millions of users have agreed upon a simple protocol, use it to exchange 31 billion messages per day, and no-way, no-how is that going to change.
I wrote on this topic a few weeks ago – “The Death and Rebirth of Email“.