Email is still so 1990

Every day I use email, I always ask myself the question when there will be an “email 2.0″. The ineffectiveness of them is huge, and although many cool tools have popped up that fill a small gap in ad hoc communication (Slack), but it doesn’t solve the whole problem.

Email is ineffective because of several well-known problems:

  • “CC” hell — everyone is put and kept in the loop. No escape
  • Still too formal — “Letter politeness” forces longer emails
  • No workflows — Dynamic workflows are impossible
  • Must read every email — waste of time
  • “AW: AW: FW: AW: Something something dark side” — Answer and forwards get real ugly fast

Years ago, Google launched a product called “Wave”. This tool was a good move in the right direction but was sadly shut down due to the small user base. This real-time communication tool was a mixture of real-time document editing and email. I used it heavily back then and managed to get several projects done in a very effective fashion.


Google implemented a lot of the features into “Google Docs”, which is a very nice real time document editing tool. It does lack the communication part though, and therefore is not a proper replacement.

What is needed for Email 2.0?

In order for email not to be controlled by a company (like the Google Wave protocol), it needs to be a open-source protocol, maybe overseen by an NGO . It needs to have real-time embedded into its core. Email addresses style should be kept. 3rd party services should be able to develop plugins for the protocol so that the functionality is always expanded and kept up to date with the current popular services around the web.

If I want to start a new conversation, I invite the required people into the conversation. My hoster negotiates the connection to the recipients and manages all the data flow. People can be added/removed to/from the conversation.

Maybe the blockchain is something to look into. It could definitely bring great advantages to the table.

I can only hope that email, as we know it today, won’t exist anymore. It has served as well in the past, but as with everything in this world, evolution needs to step in to iterate to a better status quo.