Rant: Email Needs To Be Improved

by Andy Cochrane on December 4, 2007 · 0 comments

in Uncategorized


Dear everyone in my email addressbook, I have changed my email address, please use this one from now on…

Ever received, if not written, dozens of emails just like the one above? Why is moving email addresses so damn hard? Ever since the advent of number portability on cellphones, changing phone numbers is far less frequent, so now it’s time to make changing email addresses a little easier too. I’m not asking for email forwarding, I’m calling for a simple, easy, universally adopted system of having everyone in your address book change your info in their books. We have read receipts (if you read an email with one requested, it will ask if you want to email back to the sender to let them know that you read it), why can’t we have “update my info in your records” requests that do the updating automatically?

I currently have a Hotmail, Gmail, Thunderbird, and now Apple Mail address book, and trying to get them all combined cleanly is ruining my free time. I have them mostly cleaned up now, but seriously, why don’t we have this sorted out by now? Everyone has a name, a phone, an email, address, etc- basic info. And everyone’s data constantly changes and needs updating. And let’s face it, we do not need a new web 2.0 service or offline application- we need a standard that works on all programs. I want to have all the data I currently already have combined into a single record per person, that can be read or written by whatever application I am using, and updated on them all. And I want that data auto corrected- if you move, I want my address for you to change itself. I know this is radical and would require all kinds of little controls to make everyone happy, but honestly, this would benefit a lot of people. How many people have had this email:

Hey guys, I lost my cellphone/PDA/brain and with it, all of your numbers! Help me out, email me your current info so I can update it. We should hang out soon!

Ugh. Why do I have to email you my info? You’re the one who lost your data, dumbass. Wouldn’t it be easier if you could send out a data request email, that asks for info from people that they just have to hit “ok” to agree to? I don’t want to have to type all my info out to you, but I don’t mind hitting “yes” to a request for it. Or like I said above, if you update your own info, how about letting everyone know automatically in a manner that doesn’t piss everyone off?

Maybe a system wherein you send a request for data (this system requires everyone to store their own data in a place the programs can access it) and the recipient can choose what fields, or all, or certain presets of data, that they want to give you. Like I said, I don’t want a new program that does this; for this system to work, every email program needs to support it, it needs to be a standard. And all programs should be able to access the same global address book for you- I want IMAP for addresses: add/modify/delete any entry using any application and have it sync automatically and instantly to all other applications I use. It’s almost 2008, let’s get with the program, humanity.


(p.s. I chose the image for this post because I thought the blue cloud labeled “The Internet” was pretty damn funny in the middle of an otherwise pretty technical diagram)

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