Mail: A short history of Speed and SPAM

In the wake of each innovation new threats are catching up with us. The history of mail is one of speeding up and finding ways to prevent unwanted interferences.

About horses and ponies

robberyCouriers in ancient Persia rode rapidly from station to station, changing horses at each station. The Mongols did this, too, and much later in the United States the Pony Express used a similar system to deliver mail across the American continent.

It took a long time for messages to reach their destination. And there was the challenge of protecting the stations from robbers.

Dot Dot Dot Dash Dash Dot

The invention of Morse Code and the telegraph in the 1830s/ 1840s enabled delivery of information at speeds far beyond the pace of the fastest horse. And just a century later e-mail was invented!

Nowadays information travels at the speed of light. Our technologies also make it easy to send a single message to a large number of people. This practice, known as SPAM, emerged only 5 years after the invention of e-mail.

The first SPAM message was, "THERE IS NO WAY TO PEACE. PEACE IS THE WAY." The message was considered very important by its author, who didn't understand why spamming was a 'bad practice' and 'abuse of the system'. This author had never read the IMI whitepaper, Ten Tips for Making Email Work! Luckily, you can read it now.

Since we no longer send messages via courier, we don't worry about robbers raiding the post stations. Now we fear the viruses and worms that hide behind the .exe file awaiting the right moment to strike.

Back to the Future mail

The next development in how we send messages will be "brain mail." We are already able to control drones with our thoughts, making them change direction, speed and height as they fly. Samsung has developed a brain-controlled device that enables users to check email and access music libraries. We will soon write our notes and reports not by speaking but simply by thinking, and we'll send them with a mental click.

Of course, brain mail writers will have to be on the lookout for the next generation of bad actors, like "brain breaches"-- viruses that interfere with brain waves to make you write things you might not intentionally write, or pirate your authentication and access levels, or maybe even SPAM everyone with your accidental naughty thoughts.

And what about that song in your head that just won't stop playing (affectionately know as earworms)? What will that do to your ability to write brain mail? It seems that no matter how far we progress, each new advance is accompanied by new problems for us to tackle.

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Tuesday, 14 July 2020

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