Rupert Goodwins' Diary

Wednesday 21/08/2003And talking of messy -- RE: Your details. That film!

Wednesday 21/08/2003
And talking of messy -- RE: Your details. That film! The email you sent could not be delivered. The Augean stables of my various email accounts are full to overflowing with worms producing -- rather than composting -- digital excreta. As Professor Dan Farber -- maintainer of the Interesting People mailing list on which I try very hard not to depend -- says, "Find the person who did this, and jail them." I suspect he and most other people would be just as happy for the culprit to be hung, drawn and quartered, were this not against sound liberal morality.

It's beyond a joke. Despite every attempt to layer on more security, patch more holes, educate more people not to open attachments and so on, the world of email gets more cumbersome and unreliable by the day.

I think it's time to start again. That's one of the joys of the Internet -- you can do this overnight if you get enough people to agree. Recast email in a more sensible way: no encoding of any sort, no message over 5,000 characters, no attachments, not more than five recipients, no more than one message per ten seconds. Clients and relays to enforce these limits without exception.  Rigid blacklisting set by clients, with a distributed control system working to agreed rules that spots and auto-blocks any spam.

If you want to break any of these rules, then you go and use the old email -- nobody's saying that the existing infrastructure has to be turned off.  There are plenty of alternative ways to distribute newsletters, move files around, even advertise. But let's not pollute the single most important and useful feature of the Internet -- personal emails. We could easily have a new syntax to mark which emails are to be sent by the new system, something like rupert.goodwins|@|zdnet.co.uk, and we could have it up and running in months -- at least on a trial basis.