If I were to build the perfect email system this is what it would look like . . .
- messages would be limited to 500 characters … okay then 1,000 characters (but you don’t need to use them all);
- no attachments allowed … good data gets lost this way, spam would loose it’s power, malware would be reduced since it hitch-hikes on attachments;
- external email addresses would be by invite only … reduces spam, controls who sends you info;
- messages could be ‘easily’ exported to other structures … a single button click would move your messages & topic threads to a discussion group or wiki;
- message threads would not be allowed to go on longer than three iterations … the people involved would be prompted to move to other tools e.g. wiki;
- links to data referenced in the email message would be easy to embed … see above regarding no attachments;
- time limits on message life would be imposed … and automatically implemented, nothing worse than good data lost in years worth of old email;
- tags would be used to identify the contents of messages … versus just subject lines, this would make searching a lot easier and would tie everything together;
In other words, email would go back to being a valuable communications tool and not the data store, collaboration medium, transport mechanism it has become.