Postcards could also be probably the most apparent examples of Marshall McLuhan’s well-known dictum, “the medium is the message.” Regardless of what you write on one, a postcard tells somebody, hey, I used to be out and about on the planet, and I used to be pondering of you.
I’m an inveterate sender of postcards. For all of the instantaneousness of right this moment’s communication choices, nothing fairly conveys a message the way in which a postcard does. Another side I discover McLuhanesque is the hole between whenever you mail the postcard and when the particular person receives it. The card is impartial of each sender and receiver; third events carry it to its destiny.
I additionally love e mail, which I’ve at all times considered the digital equal of a postcard.
While e mail doesn’t have the bodily limitations of a postcard (although e mail is equally “open” within the sense that anybody with snooping expertise can learn one in transit), there’s a shift in time between sending and receiving in each codecs. And I’d argue that the perfect emails observe the identical format as a postcard: easy, targeted messages.
Not everybody loves e mail, in fact, however I’m satisfied that a lot of the hate we’ve for e mail comes from the software program we use to work together with it. That is, e mail purchasers.
The know-how behind e mail is likely one of the longest-lasting, most-used units of protocols on the web. But whereas e mail know-how, just like the postcard, has stood the take a look at of time, e mail purchasers haven’t. They’ve been corrupted, uncared for, and relegated to the again of the category. If we’re actually going to study to like e mail once more, what we first want are higher e mail purchasers.
I’m not speaking about web-based e mail (like Gmail), the place you go to a URL and see your cloud-based inbox within the browser window. I’m speaking a couple of stand-alone e mail shopper that downloads your mail from a mail server and allows you to learn and reply out of your desktop, both in a devoted utility or in an e mail reader that’s constructed into one other utility, like an internet browser. A stand-alone e mail shopper provides you an identical benefits all native purposes have over their web-based counterparts: pace, grace, and offline accessibility. This sort of factor was once frequent. The Opera net browser had a built-in e mail shopper, and Mozilla (makers of Firefox) supported the stand-alone shopper Thunderbird. But over the previous 10 or 15 years got here a shift to web-based e mail, led primarily by Gmail. This transfer prompted most browsers to drop their e mail purchasers, and even destroyed the marketplace for some stand-alone e mail purchasers.
But many people by no means discovered web-based e mail interesting. I attempted Gmail briefly and located it a step backward. Slow to load, awkward to make use of, and insistent on making an attempt to type and manage my inbox for me by including labels and shunting issues into separate tabs. That’s not what I would like, and so I’ve at all times relied on e mail purchasers to fetch, show, and ship my e mail.
For reference, right here’s the historic timeline of my relationship with mail shopper software program: First there was Mutt, then Pine, then Eudora, then Mailsmith, then Opera, then Thunderbird. Now, I exploit a mixture of Mutt and Vivaldi Mail.