ReadWrite: How Spam and the Cloud Can Save the Future of Email
Email is dead, according to some high profile figures.
Meanwhile, email use continues to grow steadily, and by some estimates nearly 80% of all business data can be found in email. Yet, even many of email’s greatest fans believe that after nearly 40 years of evolution, email has pretty much settled into its final form. I think they’re wrong – we have only seen the beginning of what email can do.
Much of email’s ongoing evolution is happening behind the scenes. The stability of the email user experience hides a surprising amount of ongoing innovation. In any evolving, complex system, the parts that work best are the least likely to evolve, and will tend to appear static. Today’s email user experience looks a lot like the experience of a quarter century ago, even before the emergence of such major innovations as POP, IMAP, and Webmail. So what’s driving email evolution in 2012? Ironically, it is both spam and cloud computing. Let’s see why.
How Spam Drives Innovation
The problem of spam is thorny, deep, and intractable. The fundamental issue is that Moore’s Law, which has given us all the wonders of the digital age, works in the spammers’ favor. If the good guys work for two years and manage to halve the percentage of spam that gets through, the spammers need only double their output to maintain the same level of access to inboxes.
The good news: there are dozens of different and compatible anti-spam techniques, most of which are not yet in use.
The bad news: Predictably, the industry has chosen the easiest approaches first.
Even these simpler approaches have, like NASA, produced spin-off technologies of wider value, such as filtering and authentication mechanisms. But the real payoff will come when the anti-spam community has to tackle the trickiest set of anti-spam techniques – those that create economic disincentives to spam. This doesn’t necessarily mean a world in which you have to pay to send email; there are far more sophisticated approaches. But it does mean that spam may be the problem that finally produces a global micropayment infrastructure for the Internet, which would be an incredibly valuable spin-off……Learn More
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