This is a reposting of a bit I wrote on Fri 2015-05-29.
I’ve gone round and round trying to sort out what’s the ideal communication solution. For now I’ve come back to the simple answer: email.
I thought email was over, that it was time to leave it behind, relegated to just handling commercial spam and first-contact messages. However, in searching for some replacement that made sense, that had a simpler storage architecture, HTTP-only transport, and so forth, I haven’t found a simple solution.
It’s still true that sender-stored email is an ideal solution, but it requires the sender to do the work. It even works, at least when I’m the sender. However, replies and conversations are a bit more difficult with sender-stored email than with regular email.
The indie web and micro-formats are also interesting moves in this direction, but they also represent a lot of work for the participant.
Ultimately, Gmail ends up being an implementation that has nearly all of the properties of any of the replacements I can imagine, particularly when all participants are actually on Gmail. In that case it is all secure HTTPS to the service, storage is secure and you can get your data out if you want to leave Gmail.
- One to one is straightforward.
- One to many is BCC.
- Many to one is straightforward.
And, it turns out that Gmail in it’s native format is very lightweight. My recent move toward eliminating signing messages and removing the signature makes it nearly identical to a simple chat. Gmail’s presentation keeps that view clean.
Gmail’s Inbox moves a couple of steps closer to the clean and simple ideal, but then it leaves other features hard to use. Inbox superimposes a todo list view on the email that’s unwanted, with the slight redeeming quality that it does provide a way to keep the inbox looking clean and minimal. My recent problem with Inbox, which I’m using for email@example.com, was that I had two unread messages that I simply could not find on the phone app even though it had a badge saying two items were there, somewhere! Fortunately, going back to Inbox on the desktop showed them right up top. There seems to be some bug in that system, maybe in the phone-desktop interaction.
So, for now, I’m going back to basics. Email. I’d never have believed it.
That said, I do use phone text messaging, and more specifically, iMessage on the iPhone, for the majority of my family communication. I use Facebook messages and Facebook for some. I’ve never done more than play with direct messages on Twitter. We use Hipchat at work which I dislike a lot. That model is wrong in several ways. My biggest complaint there is that Messages aren’t threaded.