[Klug-general] The Problems with EMail (Re: Talk at the next meet)

Peter Childs pchilds at bcs.org
Sun Nov 16 18:26:08 UTC 2008

2008/11/16 J D Freeman <klug at quixotic.org.uk>:
> Hash: SHA1
> On Sun, Nov 16, 2008 at 11:34:26AM +0000, Peter Childs wrote:
>> >From what I can I can work out EMail has (at least) four problems,
>> 1. A Use case problem which really means, meaning that email is
>> difficult to sort find and generally organise (What people have been
>> discussing...
> One of the main isssues of have with email is that people don't
> understand enough of the technology behind it, they don't understand
> enough of the concepts. They don't know that there is an In-Reply-To:
> header. Meaning that they start a new thread which gets sorted
> seperately, when they infact meant to reply to a previous email. Email's
> main improvement over snail mail is the fact that you can maintain
> emails as a collected serious of statements. The In-Reply-To: header is
> a key part of this. It is hidden from 99% of all users. It also makes
> for clouding of the information and disjointed threads. In short, don't
> start a new thread, hit reply instead.
>> 2. It can't handle Binary very well so people send there Holiday Snaps
>> over email and the inbox get clogged. It can't even handle formatting
>> very well which is why people try to use HTML email etc
> HTML email is an abomination, email attachments aren't that bad, if they
> are delt with properly, they arrive, you hit save as etc... Email
> clients that actually load up the image in the client are very bad.

Have you ever seen a base64 file, Its take a 5 Mega Picture which came
from my 10 Mega Pixel Camera (I'm not sure how to get it to jpeg
compress correctly) then add a third hmm thats 13Meg then email it,
Then wonder why its taking 3 weeks to send on my relatively fast
broadband connection. (Ok this ain't me, but I've seen this a hundred

>> 3.  It was never designed as a complete procedure but is a
>> amalgamation of different things, hence its open to abuse and nothing
>> is secure. SMTP, Pop3, IMAP, PGP, you name a protocol and its probably
>> used in email somewhere.
> RFC 1149.
> The same is true for pretty much any system out there. Http is specified
> in RFC2616, and is built on TCP, which is specified in RFC 675, not to
> mention it's many extenstions (RFC's: 793, 1122, 1323, 1379, 1948, 2018,
> 2581, 2988, 4614, and probably others). TCP intern runs ontop of IP
> which is defined in RFC791. Etc... Yes, they are all based on other
> protocols, this is a feature not a bug. If you try and sit down and get
> everyone with an interest to define one protocol for email, you end up
> with a camal.

Maybe a camal is also a good thing, Oh 1149 hmm oh IP that describes

What I'm saying is that IMAP and POP3 really do this same job, not
very well because my protocol of choice these days seams to be
GMail..... (Much as I can use IMap with GMail it still is not
wonderful. At work we ended up not using email at all but somthing
based on our database, because it fitted better.

>> I had a fourth problem but I've now forgotten what it was.....
> People top posting?

That was not it but it will do. (Top Post, Bottom Post, It depends
what I'm doing in this case Top Posting worked because I was really
branching the thread)


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