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Email: Past it!

21 April 2006 by Chris N

News reaches me (hot from today’s Metro, courtesy of Mr Bowers) here at UKFast Blog Central that The Queen has received more than 20,000 birthday cards this year – and 17,000 emails. Looks like this new technology has finally filtered through to even the most established parts of The Establishment.

But of course, it’s not new technology at all. Like a lot of the Internet (with the youthful WWW a notable exception), email’s been around since the 60s. I think it’s starting to show its age. Last night I was watching (I confess with some amusement) Rich trying to send a set of hefty images to a client – as often seems to be the case this was quite a painful, slow process. Have you ever had to receive a large file like that? Of course you have, we’re all technical wizards here, right? You know what a pain it is – and it’s no surprise given that this is a technology originally designed to send plain text messages between studious scientific types.

Nowadays email’s mainstream enough to have been comprehensively hijacked by spammers. The big boys of the email world tell us it’s alright, they’ll make stronger filters, they’ll add anti-phishing systems. Now I have to put up with Thunderbird telling me half my mail is a scam even when it comes direct from tech support (scandalous, those magic beans I’m getting from Paul are totally kosher). The truth is, we have all the resources we need to develop a new email system from scratch, but it’s become so important and crucial to the way the world works that we’re stuck building on top of an out-dated system.

I hope we can work it out, because I’m a little worried that half of the Queen’s 17,000 mails were of the viagra-selling flavour – and that’s no way to talk to royalty.