Happy Birthday Email

Earlier this year the standards that define email turned 37 years old. That means that, since 1983, the same basic method has underpinned the sending and receiving of email messages over the internet. The first underlying concepts were published back in 1973 – that’s an astonishing 46 years ago. Sure, things have changed, standards have improved, extensions have been added, but basically, today, we still use many of the same simple open business communication methods that we used in the early seventies.

Surely, with the rise of the internet and its tech giants, this simple method of sending and receiving messages between people and machines would have been superseded? Seemingly not. The big social platforms all have their messaging protocols built in – Facebook MessengerTwitterWhatsApp; but the fundamental technique used for ad-hoc business to business communication, email, is apparently, not going away any time soon.

In-fact, its use is increasing with a forecast 333 billion messages likely to be sent and received each day in 2022. The question therefore is – why?

Its open.

Email is the only messaging protocol that has been written with completely open standards. That means that anyone who adheres to the standards can be involved and send and receive email. From the simplest website to the most complex integrated software applications, they can all play the email game with equal capability and assuming the messages are well presented equal likelihood of being delivered.

Its decentralised.

Unlike almost every other messaging system, there is no central point of policy, enforcement or monitoring. This is distinct to FacebookYahoo or even Blackberry Messenger all of whom are centralised and therefore can read interpret and use every message that passes through their systems and apparently use this information to learn our preferences and interests.

It’s simple.

The email addressing protocol is simple. All you need is a registered internet domain and a mail client and anyone can start to communicate. No signups or accounts linked to other services. Nothing. just a domain and a trivial piece of software.

Luncheon meat?

Naturally a highly open, global and largely unrestricted messaging platform does have a downside – SPAM or unsolicited, unwanted email messages. We simply don’t get the same level of spam messages with private messaging networks; but seemingly we don’t care, spam filters are low cost or often free, and in the main block most unwanted messages from being delivered.

According to Wikipedia, the name for unwanted email is named after “Spam, a luncheon meat, by way of a Monty Python Sketch about a restaurant that has Spam in every dish and where patrons annoyingly chant “Spam” over and over again. That’s just odd, but according to Google, seemingly it may well be true.

Here to stay?

So, email is apparently here to stay and apparently not going anywhere fast. Interestingly, the flow of information between companies, spearheaded by email is now starting to cause a groundswell in other spin off areas – one specifically is called Organisational Network Analysis or ONA. ONA is the practice of analysing messaging data flows between organisations to then help track and inform relationships, risks and behaviours.

Maybe its new applications such as this that might just re-invigorate interest and excitement even after nearly 40 years.

Anyway, I’m off to email this to my publicist…..

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