Friends have asked me why I designed TeamWork.io and ReadZap.com around text and email, when it seems the current trend is towards visuals and graphics, especially on phones and tablets.
It was something of a lark, in that it combines an obsession with Mailinator’s technical architecture, along with a now-forgotten coordination system theorized by Terry Winograd and Fernando Flores.
But there are more practical reasons for doing it as well.
First of which is: this is how every project starts and evolves.
I.e., someone creates a spreadsheet of things to do, and maintains it (maybe, if they’re really disciplined) for a few weeks at the most.
Then, all the subsequent important information devolves into a mass of random emails among the project participants.
So I thought, why not leverage those two things, and use them to keep an automated record?
And the next reason is more compelling: the email protocol, even as originally designed, is also a nifty application programming interface in its own right.
In a nutshell, email is:
Everyone has an email account and knows how to use it.
The email protocol is an open standard, not under the control of any single entity or organization, and accounts from different providers are interoperable, which is quite unlike SMS, IM, or the latest messaging app.
Both plain text and simple html found in email messages are naturally responsive and accessible on any kind of mobile device, large screen or small.
In this age of surveillance, securing electronic communication of any kind is difficult, but it’s interesting to note that the NSA chose to shut down secure email provider Lavabit through legal means, rather than using technical decryption, and it’s unclear how strong the NSA’s code-breaking algorithms really are.
So no dedicated mobile apps are necessary, nor is any special effort required for responsive web design.
The reactions, interestingly enough, have been either:
I love it, so simple!
I hate it. It feels like going backwards, to programing in DOS.
Which is good, actually, since the worst thing any project can suffer from is indifference.