Email is dead; long live email.
In his State of the Art column on Wednesday, Farhad Manjoo, the technology columnist for The New York Times, examines the controversy over Donald Trump Jr.’s email thread in which he was told that Russian government officials could provide dirt on Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign. The emails have raised questions about just how much Russia influenced November’s election.
The flap is also a reminder of the perils of email, and how messages can come back to bite you. Anything recorded is hard to eliminate — the messages can be forwarded or saved, and they are never truly deleted. So if you have something sensitive to discuss, an old-fashioned phone call or an in-person meeting might be the better way to go. Email should go the way of the dodo for secure communications, Farhad writes.
Yet Farhad also reflects on what we would lose if email were to fade away. Because email is intimate and convenient, it has produced “an unmatched historical record of some of the most important stories in the world,” he writes. “It preserves time, location and state of mind, the what-when-where-and-who of every story we might want to dig up.”
In other words, the transparency that email can provide will be sorely missed if everyone switches over to encrypted messaging apps and other secure communications channels for handling sensitive information.
So long live email? Not exactly — but at least savor Donald Trump Jr.’s emails as email’s last hurrah.
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