July 3, 2011
Shortmail.com, An Opportunity Missed
Without a doubt what Shortmail says about email is true but they are deploying the wrong solution. Quite simply, there are many cases where an embedded picture is worth a thousand words. Often an attachment is the best solution. But because some people abuse email, Shortmail's solution is to penalize everyone. This is typical law enforcement mentality. If there is a chance for terrorists boarding an airplne, pat down granny and feel up teenagers.
Shortmail is ShortThinking. They could have come up with a much better solution that does not penalize the innocent yet achieves 100% of Shortmail's worthwhile goals.
Because I need to send and receive attachments and inline images, I'm not signing up for Shortmail. "Big deal" you say, "who cares about you anyway?" If you did say that, you are missing the larger picture. Email, like the telephone and the Internet, depend on the network effect for its value. If not everyone signs up, like they do for telephony, users will be a sub-group of humanity - an island in a much larger ocean.
Here is the solution that I think is a much better one. Shortmail uses a server (or a server cloud) to create, edit and distribute emails. My proposal is that Shortmail accept Longmail from anywhere and repackage it for Shortmail users. The repackaged email would strip the original of all the "offensive" material: attachments, inline images, multiple "To" and "CC" headers, embedded email addresses and so on but it would keep the original email on file. If the recipient requests it, Shortmail would provide it.
One can hope for Shortmail II.