Time to abandon ship?

June 15, 2006 at 10:45 am 2 comments

A colleague of mine forwarded me this article a week or so ago that was printed in The Register and I have been meaning to blog about it ever since. Actually, I did blog about it last week, but it got lost during the Blogger crash last Thursday. So, here is round two of the post… considerably shortened because I have a time crunch at hand as I prepare to head to New Orleans for ALA next week.

Kelly Martin is urging us to ditch email because “It’s dangerous, insecure, unreliable, mostly unwanted, and out-of-control” and I have to agree to a certain point with much of what he has to say. Each day I waste valuable time (time that could be spent doing something productive) contending with a literal deluge of spam and scams in the inboxes of my various email accounts. I have spent countless hours trying to figure out how to filter or stop the unwanted messages, but each solution is full of pitfalls and only lasts for a short time (or so it seems) before the deluge begins again.

Martin points out that we have been using the same email protocol for the last 25 years (SMTP) and that in essence it is time to throw out the baby with bathwater. He states: “Email in its current form will never, ever, ever be spam-free. It will never be virus-phishing-scam free. It will cost companies and individuals billions of dollars in theft, criminal activity, and the reality of spam will grow from the 50-70 per cent it is today to 90 per cent of all traffic… Email will never be secure, because it was never designed to be secure”.

We are having terrible spam issues at MPOW in recent weeks. Our email addresses are too vulnerable, especially with us offering email reference services. How can we continue to make our email addresses accessible to our customers and still have any hope of maintaining some control over the influx of spam? We have tried a myriad of solutions and (again) none are ideal and none work for long.

On a slightly related tangent, I read this article and made a connection to recent posts in the biblioblogosphere about the need for certain ILS vendors to ditch their current products and start from scratch. Although the situation is somewhat different with email, the message is the same — you can only put patches and add-ons to old technology and protocols for a limited time before it becomes completely obsolete and truly time to abandon ship.

My colleague commented that her favorite quote from the Martin article was:

All the work spent fixing email is like rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. Email is a sinking ship and it should be abandoned…

I have to concur, but I also think that fixing email might never be possible. Yet, I hold hope that ILS vendors will listen to the conversation that is occurring and consider that it might time to start from fresh to give their customers what they need and want.

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2 Comments

  • 1. Shadow Maker  |  June 16, 2006 at 11:39 am

    Perhaps the replacement for email is and will be Instant Message and the cell phone. KDH

  • 2. Janie L. Hermann  |  June 19, 2006 at 10:03 pm

    Those are currently my preference. I use email mostly for business purposes these days, and I am trying to cut down on it when I can. I either talk to friends and family on my cell phone or send an IM. Still, I think there must be something else that can and will emerge… eventually.


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