Monday, June 22, 2009

E-mail becoming unusable?

A few days ago our e-mail system went down overnight. Most people (who I know, at least) didn't notice for awhile. However, I had a big clue: no junk mail. My e-mail account had gone all night without acquiring any spam. Since I tend to get about 45 junk e-mails over the course of 8 hours each night, getting none was quite suspicious.

This leads me to wondering whether or not e-mail is really starting to become unusable. If we don't win against spam, phishing, etc, will we become too frustrated with it? I can get 100 spam messages in a single day. Many of them are moved to the junk e-mail folder; however, when I'm sitting at my computer doing work and the new message icon appears in my system tray, I always end up looking to see what it was, and it is almost always junk. I like to have this indicator, but it's starting to become not worth it.

I think most of my junk e-mail is due to a mailing list I'm on. I'm hoping that once I am off this mailing list in September, i will see a dramatic decrease in unwanted mail.

My Gmail account also recently started having spam issues. I never see spam on that account, and starting earlier this month I started seeing a few e-mails of spam a day. It hasn't happened for a few days, but I am sure it will happen again.

I feel like my e-mail box has become much like my real mail box: mostly just ads for services I don't need or want. How do we fix this? This is not my area at all, so I have no great solutions. I don't like the proposed solution of making e-mail cost money, as right now it's a great medium for staying in touch even just throughout a day (I have entire conversations through e-mail throughout a single day, that sometimes involve 20 messages, which could really add up in cost). I do believe we need to find a way for it to not be profitable for spammers/phishers to bother; or would that just mean even more e-mails, as the likelihood of finding someone who will fall for it is low? I hope that in a decade it will be common knowledge what types of e-mails to ignore, but my brain tells me that is unlikely. Won't spammers just keep evolving with the technology? So how do we get spammers to give up? Maybe we need psychologists to work on this problem.

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