Standard image of the new scientist

Email should be out of date by now. Why are we still using them?

Email is often slow, boring, and annoying, but her persistent determination has enabled her to weather dramatic technological changes over the decades, writes Annalee Newitz


| comment

October 21, 2020

By Annalee Newitz

Mariia Reshetniak / Getty Images / istockphotos

I wish my doorbell stopped emailing me every few hours to find out the camera was down. I also wish a certain person would stop sending lengthy, hostile proclamations to one of my favorite email lists. Both of my wishes illustrate the long history of email problems, from irritating list services 40 years ago to automated notifications of inanimate objects today. It's one of the oldest apps on the internet – since the days before we used the word "app" – and despite its drawbacks, most of us still use it every day.

Typically, the apps we download in 2020 have …