Prahlad Yeri

Freelance Programmer and Writer

Let's do more email


The privacy advocates have been quite vocally and vehemently discouraging the use of email since almost a decade now but contrary to popular opinion, I strongly believe that despite being old, Email is a wonderful technology and mode of communication with several benefits, and it can optionally be made fully secure using plugins like Enigmail if desired by the correspondents.

envelope

Below are some reasons to keep using email as a mode of communication even in 2020 and beyond.

  1. The old charm of "letter writing". When did you last saw someone post a letter in an inland or envelope in the old fashioned way? Believe it or not but the good old "letter writing" has become an almost extinct skill these days. Email is the last remaining vestige of actual written communication which happens in a non-instantaneous way and records are preserved in an open format.
  2. No other alternatives. A whole bunch of so called "IMs" or instant messaging apps have emerged over the years including Skype, WhatsApp, Telegram, Discord, etc. but none of them can replace the good old email. Its the only communication mode where the sender can respond with sizable content after taking a pause and undergoing a thought process instead of quickly "IMing" a few words through a mobile app.
  3. Based on open standards, isn't controlled by FANG or other big tech company. Email is an open standard based on well established protocols like IMAP/SMTP/POP3/etc. Its the only communication mode which doesn't require a company like Google or Facebook to cooperate, consequently it isn't controlled by any one corporation and is thus a truly open technology owned by all of humanity.
  4. Retention of records makes people more responsible in their tone and language. Unlike "disappearing WhatsApp messages", emails can be archived and preserved for decades or even centuries with the technology we have. There is this recent modernist fetish for privacy which advises you against email only because comms can be preserved to be viewed later. But my argument is that if the communication is open to scrutiny, people will be more conscious of their tone and language. With "disappearing WhatsApp messages", people will be more inclined to use abusive language in their comms considering how difficult it is to gather them as evidence compared to email messages.
  5. Can be made secure using tools like VPN and extensions like Enigmail. Its a common misconception that Email communication is inherently insecure. Just as you can use SSL/TLS to make HTTP more secure, you can use plugins like Enigmail to digitally sign and even encrypt outgoing emails.

If you still refuse to use emails even after going through this thought process, it only means that:

  1. Either you have vested interests in FANG or other IM companies which thrive on standards not being open. OR
  2. You have fallen for the propaganda spread by lobbyists belonging to the former category.