"When you wake up you're all weak
Throwing your life away
Someday, sorry coming home
Down in my heart"
<H1> <B> <U> <FONT FACE="Times New Roman,Times"> <FONT COLOR="#FF0000"> <FONT SIZE=+4> <a href="email"> Hello! </A> </FONT> </FONT> </FONT> </U> </B> </H1> </CENTER>
Email was an instant (though not anticipated or planned) success. The birth of electronic messaging is an interesting story altogether.
This popularity had a number of reasons. One of them certainly was that it was new. But then there is the social phenomenon that I will call levelling effect. This is the effect that may have (had?) a great impact on our communication, the way we see people and, eventually, society; it may very well die out too, on the other hand.
Email is simple. Email is fast. Supposedly it was these two attributes that created an environment where it is okay for the student to say "Hi!" to their professor (to give just one example). This is the levelling effect: there are no cloths distinguishing, no age, no color and no gender, no social status and no titles. Email thus achieved what school uniforms didn't.
Yes, what I have just said sounds and is romantic (wishing?). No, the world is not perfect. Not even the world of email. (In order to judge this we have to be better, or is the proper term more perfect, than the wold, haven't we?)
Email is simple. Email is fast. There are no empty phrases, there is no small-talk (there can be small-talk). You can come straight to the point, email creates a very productive (and thus creative) environment where the unproductivity is highly productive.
HTML is simple? HTML is fast? HTML indeed is a simple and fast markup language for web pages. In my opinion, WYSIWYG HTML editors do the contrary of making it even easier to use, but other opinions are possible. With its (relative) standardisation and almost exclusive use of ASCII characters HTML is predestined to be used to enhance the looks (and usability?) of email messages (but then there is RFC 1563). I am not too happy with that.
There is no need for fancy formatting.
I have never felt the need to write in green or include images in my email. Have you?
If I send you this:
I love you!
do I love you more than if I send you that:
*I love you*?
The only group of people who need HTML-spiced email are those who want to advertise or sell something via email. I don't know why we should prostrate ourselves and email before them.
Fancy formatting is dangerous.
Looks do matter. They matter a lot.
This is why it is so wonderful and (I think) important that they do not matter in email. What matters is readability. We tend to confuse the two (me too!). The Web is an outstanding example. On the WWW, this misunderstanding may still be more appropriate than with email, however. That's why I think the fancy formatting is dangerous. This of course implies that I think the "HTMail" will win. There is little doubt about that.
Fancy formatting is tedious.
I think I mentioned before that I appreciate the simplicity of email and the fact that almost everything about it is fast. As soon as formatting comes into play much of the simplicity is gone. No, of course I do not have to use it; supposed that I can live with the status of being anachronistic.
Fancy formatting increases net traffic.
I'm not quite sure if this is a strong argument, a weak argument or none at all. Today, with so much nonsense being sent around the world and producing that nonsense myself, how can I argue about some kB? Netscape offers you to send email in both plain text and HTML. If it is possible to send the plain text, why HTML? Just to tell the recipient to use Netscape?
Fancy formatting is a pain in the ASCII...
...when your email program cannot render it. Look at the "Hello!" above (can you find it?) and you know why.
Worst of all are images that are just references to a remote server. How many of you are online when you read your mail? Even if you are, the images take time to download (I haven't seen one necessary but that may change) and if you are not, the email looks crappy, HTML-ized or not.
Fancy formatting is a pain in the ASCII...
...when your email program can render it. It makes things generally slower, bloats the code and bloats the program.
A very useful thing are links you can click on, however. Almost any email program today sends them to the browser of your choice. That's all there is to it and that's all I need.
When I write or speak, again I have to find all I seek is to provoke my mind (and yours maybe).