Email. What a disaster. Wastes time. Hard to secure. Ubiquitous.
Some seek to avoid it entirely, for good reasons.
This phenomenon can be thought of as a potent modern tragedy of the commons. The commons in question here is the world’s pool of attention. Email makes it just a little too easy to grab a piece of that attention. The unintended consequence of all those little acts of grabbing, is a giant rats nest of voracious demands on our time, energy and sanity.
(C&C social media.) or weird reasons.
But being realistic, we are already locked in to email. So, how can we minimise the harm?
Be smarter about how you read your mail. Encryption-supporting clients etc. Less-awful-UI clients.
The classics are Apple Mail, Thunderbird, Evolution etc. The rule for all mail clients is everyone hates them all and no-one has improved substantially over the interface designs on the 90s. Nonetheless all the mediocre options are… there. Somehow still with bugs despite their minimal innovation. Apple Mail is at least well-integrated into the OS if you use macOS.
Note that google mail has obviously done some UX innovation, but I’m not happy with their owning too much info about me, so I will ignore them.
- Kube is a minimalist client built by kolabnow.
- Evolution is the GTK mail client.
- Mailspring is a web-tech-backed GPL3 mail client. It has a freemium feature set for fancy people at USD8/month.
- sparkmailapp is a commercial app that comes recommended as being less of a mess than other mail thingies and for innovating in design and such. macOS and android only.
- Weird open-source alternative email client mailpile tries to be hackable and secure. Icelandic. AGPL-licensed, which means it has dubious support because it’s commercially toxic. Reinventing lots of wheels and full of odd obsolescent dependencies. I like their aspirations, but their github tracker feels amateurish. Watch how they cargo-cult in an unmaintained Bayesian spam filter as essential infrastructure without the ability to maintain it! Thrill to their unclear threat model! Panic as they take years to get prototypes working!
- gpgtools will upgrade even Apple Mail to be a bit more encryptey.
- “mailvelope is an easy-to-use web-browser extension which brings OpenPGP encryption to webmail services such as Gmail™, Yahoo™ and others. With its unintrusive interface fully integrated into your webmail service, Mailvelope instantly secures your personal and professional email communications.”
See contacts and calendars.
Be smarter about who does all that network transmission of your mail.
- google mail exists, but that is about selling my personal data to faceless foreign corporations, so no. Unfortunately my contacts insist on using it, so my information is sold off anyway. Note to self: lose friends.
- If you had time you could host your own encryption-happy server
- At least get email from someone who is not paying their costs by abusing your personal data.
As for that last one, here are some reasonably-reputable 3rd party email providers who in principle won’t give up your email without telling you because of legal protections.
Here are some that in principle can’t give up your email because they never see your unencrypted data:
Here are some I forgot to file and must look up later.
Mail transport agents
a.k.a. mail servers. Mail transport software software and doing fancy mailings, esp SMTP Are you building a machine to email people messages about something or other? You probalby don’t care so much about privacy in this case.
mailtrain is an email newsletter app based on Node.js.
insta-deploy postfix servers with mailinabox
mailgun is an example of a host that will send lotsa email for you.
Mailpiler is a webserver which provides a front-end to a MySQL index of all your emails. Is that what you want? Are you spending your time wisely?
No but actually what can I replace email with?
Which deficiencies do you wish to avoid? If it’s security you might do better with OTR chat clients, or tinfoil hat cryptopunk social networks.