We live in a time where email is something that was invented three generations ago by grandparents. It’s an app among many on our home screens that can send messages, pictures, videos. We have it because Google give it to us, and because you sort of need it to create your Snapchat, your Instagram, your Facebook. At least for the time being.
It’s important to understand history. Lessons of the past teach us how to build a better future. Sending an email will reward you with spam rather than Likes but understanding the history behind it can teach us the importance of open standards in computing, and the dangers of a world of inaccessible walled gardens.
Perhaps it’s because I’m now closer to the grandparents than I am the millennials, or maybe it’s my tendency towards nostalgia, but I look at email, Iike the web itself, as a collective generosity, developed by people for fun over profit for the greater good, in an age that appears to be slowly drifting away. We need more of that right now. Praeteritis ad futura.