Ode to email (and the older communication protocols)

2021-06-17 @Technology

Perhaps I’m disillusioned, but I perceive the willingness for email communication to have severely declined, compared to, say, ten years ago even. The evidence throughout my email archives is aplenty, and resent-years experience also corroborates.

And though I’m an extremely slow correspondent, insofar that paper letters probably got around quicker than my emails - in spite of that, email still represents my preferred means.

Email is distributed (peer-to-peer), time-proof, open-source, and allows (asynchronous) encryption-based security on top for anyone who cares to use it, though hardly any casual user ever does. (My public encryption key is on the contact page. Where’s yours?)

Nowadays, everyone prefers more instant communications via chat and accursed messengers. Which I might have conceded to, as I have throughout the past, if the mass public actually used open-source, distributed, P2P, platform-independent protocols with end-to-end encryption that one actually can see and believe in. Examples: XMPP, Matrix.

Or via some group, but distributed and open-source channels. (I’m not strictly adamant for asynchronous one-on-one, when instantaneous and/or group makes more sense.)

That includes the classic Usenet for newsgroup communication (the effective equivalent to today’s forums, except distributed, open-source). Or the classic IRC (Internet Relay Chat). Same argument. Stack as much security on top as you wish. No middle-man to forfeit all your activity to. And all these means still exist. Anyone may host their own Usenet, IRC or XMPP server.

But I am against closed/centralized, end-to-end-encryption nonexistent solutions virtually everyone resorts to these days, forfeiting all their communication to some industry leader.

Vast amounts of options exist out there, including all the old yet reliable open and distributed protocols I spoke of, yet just about everyone prefers the worse possible choices: closed, opaque, industry controlled, monitored.

To reemphasize, I’m not strictly for email. It’s just that among the options I find rational, email is the only one I can even imagine any of my contacts using. And even that use feels waning.

Here’s the twist. I’m not even strictly that obsessed over security. I am, however, against forfeiting it to one omnipotent entity. I’d rather entrust my communications to a random garage operated hacker.

I’d far rather use plain SMS, though even here in the States, I feel the willingness towards that to be fading, not to speak of, say, myriads of Latin American counties where messengers have become the de-facto standard.

SMS, though insecure, at least spreads the insecurity across the telephony network: not tied to a life-sucking smartphone app controlled by one leading company. Consider it semantics.

I’d far sooner send all my communications on a postal card by mail: though exposed to the mailman and all postal office relays, but not to an industry giant. The communication doesn’t remain indefinitely imprinted in the cloud for data mining. And what third party would care to surveil my handwriting anyway?

Whether anything of practical consequence ever transpires with any of these options is beyond the topic. But I prefer to appeal to means of the least unhealthy byproduct and of least potential hazard. Plus, I simply loathe smartphones, or more accurately, what they represent and their byproduct. Philosophy, if you will.

So if you please, let’s exchange emails. Or postal cards. Or SMSs. Or meet on an IRC channel. Or chat via XMPP. Or correspond via Usenet. Or talk on the phone. That means phone, aka the telecommunication, circuit-switched network: the one that uses minutes, not megabytes.

Some of these terms might sound obsolete, but the choices they represent are to me the far more rational over the contemporary choices of opaque technologies and smartphone apps.

I’ll still remain the dreadfully slow correspondent, whatever the means. But at least we’ll be in touch.

Questions, comments? Connect.