Beyond email

“Nearly every item I’ve written today has been a public response to a private email”, says Doc. (He also says kind things about my blog in an earlier post.) I’d call Doc’s site a must-read, if I could possibly read as fast as he writes. The annoying thing is how much great stuff there is amid his torrent of content, even throw-aways like the one above.

Doc is on to the same insight as Steve Gillmor and Ray Ozzie: email has become both necessary and insufficient. In many ways, email is the perfect communications medium: quick, easy, durable, asynchronous, ubiquitous, accessible on a range of devices, and stretchable from one-to-one conversation to thousand-member discussion lists. In other ways, email stinks. It’s not good for structured, ongoing relationships involving documents and other types of information, which is what Groove tries to address. Moreover, it doesn’t work for material you want to post for public consumption, which is where Weblogs come in handy. And don’t get me started on email client software — it hit an evolutionary dead-end right around the time the Web came along.

I had high hopes last year for startups such as NeoMeo and Abridge that were actually trying to take email in new directions, but pretty much all of them died or got acquired.