Shlomi Fish (shlomif) wrote in shlomif_tech,
Shlomi Fish

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Why E-mail is not only a Todo list

This is a essay that aims to be a correction to what Paul Graham wrote:

Email was not designed to be used the way we use it now. Email is not a messaging protocol. It's a todo list. Or rather, my inbox is a todo list, and email is the way things get onto it. But it is a disastrously bad todo list.

I'm open to different types of solutions to this problem, but I suspect that tweaking the inbox is not enough, and that email has to be replaced with a new protocol. This new protocol should be a todo list protocol, not a messaging protocol, although there is a degenerate case where what someone wants you to do is: read the following text.

While it seemed to have made a little sense at first, I eventually realised that there are other resources whose functionality I use as a to-do list aside from email. For example:

  1. My browser's bookmarks’ menu where I bookmark links to deal with.

  2. My home directory and other directories on my file system where I put non-permanent files.

  3. Non-committed files in version control repositories.

  4. Bug trackers / issue trackers.

  5. Actual to-do lists I keep and manage.

However, there are other aspects for their use aside from serving as a to-do list, and they are all different from one another.

As a result, while trying to create an alternative to E-mail is commendable, I suspect that trying to replace E-mail with a to-do-list-like protocol will not prove to be popular, because like those - E-mail is not exclusively a to-do list.


Copyright by Shlomi Fish, 2017.

You can reuse this entry under the Creative Commons Attribution-Non commercial 4.0 Unported licence, or at your option any later version of it. See the instructions on how to comply with it.

Tags: email, paul graham
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