Death of E-Mail?

The world is giving up on popups because of spams.  Will we someday be forced to give up e-mails because of spam?  What about forums, chatrooms, and instant messaging?  Comments and trackback are also starting to come under assault from spammers.  Where is the line in the sand?

I used to feel comfortable with reliability of e-mails.  When I send something to somebody, I felt reasonably sure that it will be delivered and read.  That is no longer true today even with wide use of spam filters.  When I send an e-mail now, I no longer feel sure of it being read by the receipient.

Of about 300 e-mails I get each day, about 200 are deleted.  Out of 200, about 175 gets classified as spams or likely spams by my spam filter.  Since there are so many, I tired of scanning the headlines to catch false signals long time ago.  Wham.  They are wacked even though I know that no spam filters are perfect and aggressive filters signal falsely as much as 17%.

25 spams that pass through the filter undetected are found by glancing at the sender's address and the subject of each e-mail.  Are they really spams?  I have grown to care not.  If I don't recognize the sender or the subject line looks overly chummy like "Did you get my mail yesterday?", they are wacked without hesitance.  Foreign e-mails?  I wack them without mercy.

Constant avalanche of spams have de-sensitized me to the point where I no longer care if I delete legitimate e-mails.  Next step is accepting only digitally signed e-mails from known sources.  I don't think we are too far from that.  Spam filters actually seem to promote de-sensitization.  More reliable the filter is, more complacent the user gets.  When was the last time you looked inside the spam and suspected spam folders?

Taking my own attitude about e-mails and spams into account, I expect everyone to be doing pretty much what I do.  When I observed how my wife and son handle e-mails, I found that they are even more brutal than I am.  They don't even look at the subject line, relying only on the sender's address.  If they don't recognize the address, it is deleted without even a glance.

Now, step back and think about how much businesses around the world have come to depend on e-mail to do business, communicating with each other, their partners, and customers.  Then think about what the loss of e-mail reliability means.  Already, my friends in spam-suspect countries like Korea and China are having difficulty reaching me by e-mail because their messages are thrown into the spam pile.  This has direct impact on the ability of companies in these countries to do business.

We are in serious boo-boo, Toto.

Update #1: The message I was trying to convey in this post is not that we need better spam filters.  The message is that spam is not only annoying like dinner-time telemarketing phone calls, it is hitting businesses below the belt by degrading a major communication channel.