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.
sparkmailapp comes recommended as being less of a mess than other mail thingies.
Sexy open-source alternative email client mailpile tries to be hackable and secure. Currently being rebuilt. Icelandic. AGPL-licensed, which means it has dubious support because it's commercially toxic.
gpgtools will upgrade even Apple Mail to be a bit more encryptey.
whiteout is another open-source mail client for various platforms. Shiny corporate promotion – in fact, so much shiny promotion that it's hard to tell what the product is – but still open source.
“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.”
mailpile is a weird self-hosted email app that keeps on imploding, but promises search, encryption and signing out of the box.
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:
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?
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.
If you just want something more efficient for your purposes but don't care about the NSA reading it (realistically, my priority) there are loads of apps designed to do this, like Slack and Trello and zulip and Groups and asana, each of which manage different aspects of projects that you couls also do through email. There ae also hip open-ish self hosted chat thing for this purpose Gitter (gitter source), mattermost, or zulip which in principle you can run yourself. (the former requries you to have a trusted OSX server lying about.)