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Today’s Note: The Future of Email

February 28, 2012

Today’s Note discusses a blog post by Michael Fauscette on his website The post is titled The Future of Email is Social and it discusses the past, present and future of email. In addition, Fauscette explores the potential of email as a communication tool. He observes that “Email, which is now over 40 years old, was designed to accomplish a few very simple things, primarily one to one or one to few secure communications. For that task, email is uniquely excellent, particularly because of its wide spread adoption and interoperability capabilities.” [all italics are added by me to denote quotes from the article]

The post goes on to explore some of the weaknesses of email in the current landscape of private and social communication schemes. To be precise, Fauscette writes “the problem though, is that we’re using email, which is a communication tool, for all sorts of other collaborative tasks that are outside of its capabilities. That, coupled with the shear volume, is causing the current email fatigue.

Fauscette has an interesting take on the potential of email within this context: “are there reasonable solutions to get email under control and get other tools in place to facilitate the tasks that email is not equipped to do, while keeping it in place for the things it does well? The answer, I believe, is forming around the emerging social collaborative tools.” He suggests some possible paths: “The solution, I believe, lies in building a system that federates these new and traditional functions into the most usable UI. There are two paths then, one of pulling everything, including email into a new ‘activity stream’ or moving in the opposite direction, and pulling all of the new social capabilities into the current email environment.”

This is a really fascinating premise. Fauscette has some very interesting ideas, and has written a white paper on the subject for IBM. The blog post links to a site you can access that white paper, if you choose. It also has a handful of other interesting links. This is an intriguing look at a topic that touches on all our daily lives. I recommend this post for a quick read!

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