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Hypothetical Death Match - E-mail vs. the Web

Zonk posted more than 7 years ago | from the two-techs-enter-one-tech-leaves dept.


netbuzz writes "If you had no choice but to choose, which would you give up: access to e-mail or the Web? Both still exist, just not for you. Read how others are defending their decisions — and how a few just refuse to choose." From the article: "From Stewart Deck: 'The Web has become intertwined into so much that I do and so much that I want to know and learn about that without it I might as well move to a grass hut in Irkutsk. The Web brings me closer to words, thoughts and ideas far beyond my geographical boundaries. I use it for information, education, insight, entertainment, EVERYTHING. ... I certainly enjoy the convenience of e-mail but I think I could put together work-arounds that would hold up reasonably well in its absence.'"

cancel ×


Decisions, decisions... (4, Funny)

MrNaz (730548) | more than 7 years ago | (#16118243)

Bob's sweating brow arched over the red buttons. Intensely aware of the large calibre handgun just behind his ear and the maniac holding it who was now forcing him to choose which button to press, he was unable to decide whether to remove email or web access from his life. His pleadings to the madman had been to no avail, it had come down to choosing. His hand strained, hovering over the fateful buttons, veins bulging under the skin as his blood pressure rose and his body temperature boiled his brain. The pain of impending loss was too great, made all the more horrible by the knowledge that it would be done by his own hand.

"Hurry up!" Snapped the crazed madman from between rotten teeth and foul breath. "I ain't got all day!" As he prodded the gun forward, digging the heavy barrel into Bob's temple, Bob quivered in fear. He knew from watching Dirty Harry movies that a handgun like that would blow his head clean off, the brain matter he was so proud of scattered over the ground like so much wet, red confetti.

Our geeky hero let out a strained whimper, a silent pleading for someone, anyone, to intervene and save him from this horrible choice. Simultaneous images of mailing lists and blogs swirled in his tortured mind. Finally, a decision took form. It took form with the certainty of the iceberg in front of the Titanic, and just like then, he came to the bitter conclusion that his fate was unavoidable.

Slowly, he turned to the madman. The fear had given way to a stony resignation and determination. He looked the madman straight in the eye and said "Shoot me, asshole."

Re:Decisions, decisions... (1)

Jack Pallance (998237) | more than 7 years ago | (#16118398)

I'm just glad I won't have to give up my Gopher...

Re:Decisions, decisions... (1)

Overly Critical Guy (663429) | more than 7 years ago | (#16118399)

If you choose the web, you can access web-based email. If you choose email, you can have people email web pages to you.

Personally, I'd choose the web. Email's just email, and I only get a few a day.

Re:Decisions, decisions... (1)

Entropy (6967) | more than 7 years ago | (#16118453)


If there is ever a "best of" or "funniest of" for /. postings, yours would just _have_ to be in it! What a riot :)

I am very glad I wasn't drinking anything or I'd have spat it all over my monitor.

Re:Decisions, decisions... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16118633)

Fuckin' awesome.

The web (5, Insightful)

free space (13714) | more than 7 years ago | (#16118247)

I'd rather have the world's largest public library than the world's largest postal service.

Also, people can communicate by leaving post-it notes on books :)

Re:The web (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16118458)

diffenetly the web..

Re:The web (1)

Elemenope (905108) | more than 7 years ago | (#16118502)

I'll tell ya, I wouldn't cry a single tear if every interaction I had from now on was with a flesh-and-blood human being with no intervening wires or carrier waves (or pipes, or dumptrucks...whatever). I agree with your 'Web as library' analogy for the most part, but I can't help thinking that e-mail is the world's biggest post-office only because every 'letter' is written as if by a 5 year old in crayon. To say nothing of cell-phones, which, taken together with e-mail and IM, have completely and utterly destroyed everyone's sense of what information is urgent and what information is trivial, or that there once was a continuum between the two.

Besides, post-it tag is fun.

Re:The web (1)

thinsoldier (937530) | more than 7 years ago | (#16118728)

personally I think the whole article was a waste of time. E-mail is just one of many uses of the internet and it's totally possible to do all your emailing via the web. The questions is a waste of time. Even if email totally disappeared, there's still blog comments, forum threads, personal messages via forums etc... all of these put together basically are e-mail but better in some ways.
Heck, you can even chat on almost every known IM network via multiple websites.

And for me there is no alternative to web mail. Outlook, Outlook Express and Windows itself have F#*$(# up my locally stored e-mail so many damned times I refuse to use anything but web mail (until I switch to mac or linux).

Obvious (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16118249)

email innit.

GMail (0)

Bob Cat - NYMPHS (313647) | more than 7 years ago | (#16118252)

Fucking stupid story....

Random ruminations... (5, Insightful)

kebes (861706) | more than 7 years ago | (#16118338)

As you, my first thought was "what about webmail?"... however the article says:

This is an academic exercise (obviously) so there will be no cheating allowed. No IM, text messaging or Web mail to substitute for e-mail.

I'm not sure why IM is considered cheating if you give up on email. (You can't IM someone you don't know out of the blue; most companies don't have IM addresses listed, etc.) If IM is 'cheating' then isn't the telephone cheating, too? What about IRC? Is that cheating?

As the author says it's purely academic. My problem with these 'what-ifs' is that because they are unusual, the only way to give a sensible answer is to know all the extraneous details that are left to the imagination. What are the repercussions of breaking the rule? What are the limitations? What are the rules? Is it cheating to put up messages on forum, then phone your friends and tell them to go reply? On the flip side, it's probably cheating to email people and ask "can you do a google search and tell me..." but is it cheating if you just email them the question? In this day and age, if you ask someone a question, they'll start with a web-search anyways.

If I had to decide, I'd also select the web. Email is one of many communication modes available today (and its functionality is easily emulated elsehow), but when it comes to information collection/dissemination, the web is really unique.

Re:Random ruminations... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16118434)

The whole thing reeks of someone not thinking this through clearly.

Seriously, the latest news, Ecommerce, games, pron, mp3s, forums, FAQs, How-Tos, Wikipedias etc.

How could email, with its esoteric newsletters and "sluggish spam-filled" inbox possibly compete?

Re:Random ruminations... (1)

Headcase88 (828620) | more than 7 years ago | (#16118451)

On the flip side, it's probably cheating to email people and ask "can you do a google search and tell me..."
I'm not so sure about this. I think it should be allowed, for the simple fact that people will be pissed and stop helping you if you ask them what's going on in the internet every 5 seconds.

Even allowing that rule, I still choose the web, but like you say, there's so much subjectivity.

Re:Random ruminations... (1)

waveclaw (43274) | more than 7 years ago | (#16118466)

If I had to decide, I'd also select the web. Email is one of many communication modes available today (and its functionality is easily emulated elsehow), but when it comes to information collection/dissemination, the web is really unique.

What is the difference between an http: and a mailto: in the scheme of things?

A Wiki [] can be used for email-like communications. What is the difference from PHPboard forum websites and google groups (besides SPAM, pr0n and security vulnerabilities?) Heck, the customer comment fortune page at ThinkGeek [] has been used/abused/repurposed as a forum.

The article seemed to be more about passive information collection (TV model) vs. interactive (Internet model) of communication. Many of the arguments against email suported the idealistic notion that face to face contact is always better (Hint: email = paper trail.) Unforuntately, as applications on teh Intarweb, both the world wide web and the network of email relays are communication tools. You can put up a website and so can I. With our browsers and a lot of page reloading we can have a nearly realtime, if akward conversation. Likewise, I can subscribe to a mailing list which runs a bot to scrape webpages and deliver them to my HTML enabled mail client (insert rant about security here.) While not as interactive or freeform as casual surfing on the web, am I somehow missing something in that my HTML is being delivered via RFC 2821 (SMTP) in instead of RFC 2616 (HTTP?)

Both the web and email, with MySpace/Geocities/AOL and Viagra/Sandford Wallace/AOL included, are killer applications. Today I'd say they were seperate but cleaverly intertiwned where people need or want new views on the conversation that is the Internet.

From the article:

"That is quite a choice," says Keith Rosenberg. "Being an IT geek, both are critical to my job and I really cannot do without either. ... So I would get rid of both and get a job as a vacation tester!".

Then, perhaps the only way to win is to not play the game?

Re:Random ruminations... (1)

edbarbar (234498) | more than 7 years ago | (#16118641)

I think the way to think of the problem is as follows.

Today, you use email exclusively for some purposes. Now be imaginitive here, you don't respond to your boss' group email with an IM to your boss and 15 coworkers, and you sometimes use email because it is late in the evening etc. The no email question is "Imagine you could no longer use the internet for those purposes." Don't be creative and inventive and come up with alternatives, you just can't use the internet for it any more.

Same thing with the web. What are those things you use the web for exclusively, and be honest about it. Imagine you can no longer use the internet for those purposes: getting fast access to news articles from so many sources, latest research docs, etc.

Email just has to go (5, Insightful)

Deltaspectre (796409) | more than 7 years ago | (#16118258)

I could live without email as it hasn't been hopelessly intertwined into my life.... yet. I could always set up a discussion board/similar on my website for people to post whatever they wanted to email me with. Oh! And then I could have a program automatically parse that. And to post my replies!

Wait, what are we defining email as?

I Thought it Obvious (3, Insightful)

Alaren (682568) | more than 7 years ago | (#16118307)

...could always set up a discussion board/similar on my website for people to post whatever they wanted to email me with.

That was my first thought. Then I read the article and laughed at how many people focused on what they needed more to do their job--the web or email.

I don't really see the point of the exercise, particularly among an IT crowd... but it actually would be an interesting hypothetical in the "regular world." Most non-techies I know use the internet about 50% for email and 50% for "other," and "other" is often quite trivial. My grandmother sends urban legends and spiritual poems. My mother keeps in touch with friends and writing groups.

Everything they do could very easily be duplicated in a forum or some such, but there's the tech split: the people who know how to set up their own domain and hosting and a forum or blog would choose differently than "the masses."

Re:I Thought it Obvious (1)

noidentity (188756) | more than 7 years ago | (#16118560)

Oh come on! You can use one of those web-to-e-mail services and not lose anything if you stuck with e-mail. In fact, someone seems to have signed me up for one since I daily get web pages e-mailed to me, though unfortunately they are just advertisements. They are even nice enough to put the text into an image so I won't lose the nice fonts. Other times they send me lots of raw HTML that my e-mail client doesn't understand. The future's all in e-mail, I tell you!

Somehow I doubt it. (4, Funny)

MarkusQ (450076) | more than 7 years ago | (#16118353)

My UID is prime... is yours?

Somehow I doubt it. But I'm pretty sure it's expressible as the sum of two primes.

And I'm positive that it's expressible as the product of twenty two or fewer primes.


P.S. And to answer the main question, I couldn't do without either. Just the thought of having all that productive time back gives me the heebie jeebies.

Re:Email just has to go (1)

dcapel (913969) | more than 7 years ago | (#16118431)

Screw both of them. Just give me telnet. I play MUDs, plus I can make 'telnet' clients that happen to understand both stmp and http...

Re:Email just has to go (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16118545)

Helo ? :)

Email almost died. (1)

catwh0re (540371) | more than 7 years ago | (#16118522)

Email was already facing a similar death from spam the same way that news groups went from being functional communities into spam infested deserts.

With Email we at least saw this one coming and have pretty good methods of dealing with spam. (The next spam frontiers are blogs, IM & VOIP, but that can be dealt with easily too.)

While this might sound a little FUDish. Email is already dying a slow death, communications tools like IM, blogging, voip and video conferencing are making Email feel impersonal and technologically outdated.

No contest! (2, Funny)

gasmonso (929871) | more than 7 years ago | (#16118261)

The Internets and it's vast network of tubes is far superior to email. Porn is on the net, not in email. []

Re:No contest! (1)

riff420 (810435) | more than 7 years ago | (#16118290)

Then how do you explain 97% of my Hotmail account, BEEOTCH?

Re:No contest! (1)

User 956 (568564) | more than 7 years ago | (#16118356)

The Internets and it's vast network of tubes is far superior to email.

Is it really superior to email??? I mean, it's certainly not a truck that you can just dump something on! My staff sent me an internet last week and I didn't get it until today!

Re:No contest! (1)

Timewinder (467583) | more than 7 years ago | (#16118477)

You sir, have not seen my email.

Give up the Web? Never! (1)

electrogeek_dot_com (1000932) | more than 7 years ago | (#16118262)

It would be a tough call. Give up the web or give up email. I don't think I could live in my geekdom without either one for very long. They go hand in hand like a Ferrari and an Acer Ferrari Laptop with a simulated carbon fiber case. (Well you get point.)If I had to choose I would give up email. Hey, there's always text messages.

Re:Give up the Web? Never! (2, Interesting)

orangesquid (79734) | more than 7 years ago | (#16118339)

You can duplicate the functionality of email with the web (and maybe the other way around), but, what if you don't?

What if it's broken down to this: do you want the ability to communicate with other human beings only, or the ability to obtain information from computer databases only?

Perhaps that's more of where the question was aiming...

Re:Give up the Web? Never! (1)

evolseven (941210) | more than 7 years ago | (#16118523)

humans have the ability to communicate?? everytime I hear someone talking it is barely distinguishable as speech, and emails are 99% of the time completely nonsensical.. so I think I will stay with the computers, at least they do what I want.

Easy call (1)

bseaver20 (576965) | more than 7 years ago | (#16118271)

I'd give up email. I'd actually be happy to give up email. In fact, I'm done with it! NO MORE EMAIL! NO MORE EMAIL! NO MORE EMAIL!

Juvenile what if questions (1)

Timesprout (579035) | more than 7 years ago | (#16118273)

qualify as news here now?

Re:Juvenile what if questions (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16118402)

Juvenile what if questions qualify as news here now?
They qualify as news to precisely the same extent that whining comments such as yours qualify as "a useful addition to the discussion."

Re:Juvenile what if questions (1)

ParadoxicalPostulate (729766) | more than 7 years ago | (#16118499)

Help me out here. According to your statement, either the "juvenile what-if question" IS news and the grandparent poster is making a useful addition to the discussion, or the story ISN'T particularly interesting/useful and the poster wasn't making a useful contribution to the discussion by correctly pointing that out to us.

What would I give up? (2)

celardore (844933) | more than 7 years ago | (#16118274)

Email. No thought required. I work in an office, and I get a ton of emails every day. Each one of them tends to cause work for me.

If HTTP was blocked at work though, I'd be looking for another job pretty quick. Saying that, my new company recently decided that I must take lunch at 12pm rather than 1pm and that was enough for me to accept interviews at other companies.

Email? What's that? (1)

partenon (749418) | more than 7 years ago | (#16118276)

I can easily live without my emails. Actually, my would be far better without emails. Why do we have phones? :-)

I don't know about you, but 60% of my emails are spam. And 35% are automatic emails sent by stupid machines, telling me that I've deployed an application to some server (or informing me about a commit, or ...). So, only 5% of them are *actually* messages that worth reading. And, to be honest, its easier to just give a call to explain a problem or to ask for something.

So, my choice is obvious :-)

One has a Replacement...One Doesn't... (4, Interesting)

Quaoar (614366) | more than 7 years ago | (#16118277)

If I want instant access to information, the web is my only choice.

If I want to talk to someone, I can use this fancy technology that I like to call a "phone."

The only people who I could see picking e-mail over the web are those who are either deaf or mute, or are so socially inept that they can't talk to people over the phone.

Re:One has a Replacement...One Doesn't... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16118623)

The only people who I could see picking e-mail over the web are those who are either deaf or mute, or are so socially inept that they can't talk to people over the phone.

*places hand to ear to listen better* *whispers and points to throat while shaking head*

*looks at ground and gets nervous*

Seriously, I'm a hard-core email user. In fact I've been using email since before *gopher* existed, let alone the web. I can't imagine being without since I'm self-employed, keep odd hours, and have a couple dozen active clients. When I want to remember things I email them to myself, I've got procmail scripts that would make grown men weep, and I've basically got my killer email workflow down from almost two decades of use and refinement.

I can't imagine replacing this workflow with the phone, it's just a totally different thing. Using the phone is *very* inefficient when you just want to exchange medium-priority information.

To read news I use RSS (do you folks actually *visit* the 100 web sites you follow? Wait.. you don't follow 100 web sites?). I guess I'd lose that in its present form, but it's just a variation on email lists if you think about it.

And of course I buy things and check my stock portfolio with the web, but both of those could be replaced with the magical "phone" of which you speak.

So choosing email over the web would be easy for me. Oh, and anyone who thinks different is obviously suffering from hydrocephaly, or is high on paint thinners, or perhaps both. ;-)

Re:One has a Replacement...One Doesn't... (1)

FractalZone (950570) | more than 7 years ago | (#16118745)

If I want instant access to information, the web is my only choice.

I agree. The Web has changed the very way I live life and enhanced the experience in ways that email has not. I've had email addresses of one form or another for over two decades, since long before the Internet or email and certainly the Web became household words. There is not a whole lot I can't accomplish via phone and/or fax combined with snail mail and UPS/FedEx. (The USPS ought to have its monopoly on 1st Class Mail removed...competition would result in either a good Postal Service or a lot of postal workers looking for real jobs...but I digress.)

The key here, for me, is that the Web offers features and services available nowhere else. I am an information junkie. These days, when I read something and a term or concept I come across piques my interest, I just Google it to satisfy my curiosity. I learn a LOT this way. The Web enables me to do my job and most anything else I want to do better than I could if I had to go to the library or shop via mail order catalogs. It has replaced TV as my primary entertainment and news medium. (I don't have a TV at the moment and really don't miss it as much as I thought I would.)

One thing I do know is that as an IT professional, my life would be very complicated if I didn't have email. Anybody working in IT is expected to have at least one email address these days. Explaining why I don't have email when it is obvious that I do use the Web a lot would be awkward, to say the least. But there is nothing about email per se that I could not find an alternative workaround for. I am talking about not using anything to send or receive email that involves standard email addresses or kludged up substitutes for same.

I'm sticking with the spirit of the question and still think I could get by without the kind of conversations I have via email a lot more comfortably than I could get by without the Web. Explaining to people I know why I don't use email or even have an email address would be an interesting challenge. I couldn't even use a religious excuse, as everyone who knows me well is aware of my agnostic nature.

The Web is what allows me to learn a programming language new to me (Perl, PHP, etc.) and download technical information about computer hardware, software and networking as well as do basic research on almost any subject/topic for people who are not 'Net savvy without wasting a lot of my time.

That part, using the Web as an extension of my mind, is what matters most to me. There are simply a lot of things I (can) do and know now that I couldn't without the Web because it makes a whole slew of resources available to me almost immediately. I often feel like Trinity in The Matrix when Neo asks her if she can fly a particular helicopter and she responds, "Not yet." Then she proceeds to have Tank load her up with the flight training for a Huey B-212... I like that scene because I enjoy surprising people by demonstrating just how quickly I can find an answer on the Web to some question that comes up in conversation. While looking up that scene prior to writing the above, I was reminded of the goof it contains: the image of the helicopter on the training program is not the one for the helicopter she asked for and does indeed learn to fly on the spot. The Web is a great fact checking tool.

GIYF means something to me but I feel right at home doing all kinds of research on the Web using a wide variety of Web sites. I hate touchy-feely, oh-so-politically-correct speak and psycho babble, but I do find the Web to be very empowering, much more so than email.

Online Forums like /. (1)

jatencio (536080) | more than 7 years ago | (#16118281)

Although the article stated that if you had to choose web or e-mail (no webmail), what about forums like /. where its not webmail but serves as a bases for communication? It seems to me that forums like these would serve as an alternate to e-mail, but in a public way. Our e-mail is essential public already, the moment we hit send, but in forums like this, it is explicitly public. I wouldn't mind seeing forums for support issues rather than e-mail anyway.

Email is a subset of the internet (1)

thatgun (221980) | more than 7 years ago | (#16118284)

From the looks of it, Email is just a subset of the internet. Therefore, if you can't have the "internet", you can't have "email".

However, if you can't have "email" in the traditional sense, you can still find workarounds because you still have "internet".

Therefore, this post of taking one vs the other makes no sense.

Re:Email is a subset of the internet (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16118362)

It's "Email vs. Web" not "Email vs. Internet." "Web"!="Internet"

Re:Email is a subset of the internet (1)

wnholmes (811268) | more than 7 years ago | (#16118371)

The post said the web .vs email. The web != the internet.

Re:Email is a subset of the internet (2, Informative)

kv9 (697238) | more than 7 years ago | (#16118525)

the web is also, to use your own words, "a subset of the internet". rtfa/blurb again.

Re:Email is a subset of the internet (1)

The_Wilschon (782534) | more than 7 years ago | (#16118526)

The question was not "the internet", by which I would understand IP + the actual physical network, but "the web", that is, the complicated graph with individual pages (things you can view in a browser) connected by hyperlinks (things you can click on in a browser to view something else). I use the loose definitions for pages and hyperlinks because AJAX and similar tricks complicate things as compared to a static web.

You can have either the web or email without the internet. You could send handwritten strings of hex digits via the pony express if need be, and implement TCP over that, and then web (HTTP/S) and email (SMTP) are easy. By easy I mean already done.

Email is definitely independent of the web, and vice versa. You argue that email is dependent on the internet, but it would be more accurate to say that email is dependent on some reasonable facsimile of the internet.

Should be an easy question... (1)

HatchedEggs (1002127) | more than 7 years ago | (#16118285)

AS said, this should be easy. Think about the limitations of each of these. E-mail is a relatively unimportant medium as compared to the web I believe.. The web is so much more than that. If we didn't have e-mail, how many other ways are there that we could communicate?

Shopping on the web, data we enter... the accessibility that it gives us in so many different things. Without e-mail we would find another way to communicate effectively. Without the web, life as we know it would change drastically.

__________________________________________ []

Re:Should be an easy question... (1)

HatchedEggs (1002127) | more than 7 years ago | (#16118312)

btw, just as some mention about ways that we communicate without the internet:

1. Messaging services
3. Camera
4. Blogging
5. /.
6. etc

Don't get me wrong, e-mail is important... its one of the few mediums we have that can be both personal and impersonal, stored for short of long term, and each different thought line/send has its own subject line. However, with the web, there is the possibility of thinking up another method to accomplish this.


HatchedEggs (1002127) | more than 7 years ago | (#16118321)

Ouch, another mistype. The above should read:

btw, just as some mention about ways that we communicate without e-mail.

Poll Question? (1)

mmdog (34909) | more than 7 years ago | (#16118288)

Why isn't this just a new /. poll?

Re:Poll Question? (1)

Kamineko (851857) | more than 7 years ago | (#16118296)

Or an Ask Slashdot?

Never start a land war in asia. (1)

crazyjeremy (857410) | more than 7 years ago | (#16118297)

If I didn't have the web, I wouldn't have to put up with questions like this.

Re:Never start a land war in asia. (1)

mulhollandj (807571) | more than 7 years ago | (#16118397)

Unless somebody emailed to you.

No brainer (1)

dimension6 (558538) | more than 7 years ago | (#16118303)

Seeing as email is the only way I know how to communicate and express my thoughts, I'd definitely sacrifice the entire WWW for it. Seriously though, what is this? The lines between the various types of communication are becoming so blurred that there is absolutely no reason to separate things out like this. Look at SMS and Gmail/Talk. The lines. Blurred!

Re:No brainer (1)

nacturation (646836) | more than 7 years ago | (#16118579)

Seeing as email is the only way I know how to communicate and express my thoughts...

Thank you for communicating and expressing your thoughts on the web.

I want the real thing... (1)

creimer (824291) | more than 7 years ago | (#16118305)

The virtual world been around for less than 50 years. I would prefer physical libraries that been around for thousands of years. Real books don't go out of style with the newest version of the hardware and/or software.

Re:I want the real thing... (1)

zhouray (985297) | more than 7 years ago | (#16118333)

You read books on the Internet?

Re:I want the real thing... (1)

creimer (824291) | more than 7 years ago | (#16118394)

I review [] books on the Internet. :)

I want the real thing...A Life. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16118478)

Agreed, and it's a bit sad that there's the implicit assumption that it's necessary to everyone. Five years of unemployment shows one what's really important. Doing without the web, or it's children will demonstrate what's really important.

Re:I want the real thing... (1)

thesandtiger (819476) | more than 7 years ago | (#16118616)

I _hate_ physical libraries. Using the web for research lets me speed things up by a ridiculous factor.

When reading for entertainment, sure - books are fantastic. But for getting things done? Give me bits over atoms any day.

So what are we choosing again? (2, Insightful)

Omega Blue (220968) | more than 7 years ago | (#16118322)

So we don't have e-mail? Like SMTP and MAP/POP got zapped overnight? No sweat, we still have Web-based services such as gmail.

So what's that we need to decide again?

Re:So what are we choosing again? (2, Informative)

nacturation (646836) | more than 7 years ago | (#16118581)

So we don't have e-mail? Like SMTP and MAP/POP got zapped overnight? No sweat, we still have Web-based services such as gmail.

Well, email is delivered to your gmail account via SMTP. Granted, this could be replaced with something else... eg: RSS feeds which contain messages signed to your public key or something to which you could subscribe, but as it stands your gmail account would grind to a halt without SMTP.

Email is becoming less and less useful (1)

Shados (741919) | more than 7 years ago | (#16118324)

With all the spam and such (while it can be controled on an individual basis), email is going downhill. Soon enough it really won't be all that useful and will be replaced by alternatives (like IM, SMS, etc ). On the other hand, the web pushed is in a new age, where information is free. I honestly probably would probably be washing dishes at some restaurant instead of being a software architect, if I hadn't been able to suplement my education with the knowledge found on the web. So in my opinion, email can go where I think.

Re:Email is becoming less and less useful (1)

zhouray (985297) | more than 7 years ago | (#16118355)

Hey, you are cheating.

"This is an academic exercise (obviously) so there will be no cheating allowed. No IM, text messaging or Web mail to substitute for e-mail. And no borrowing someone else's browser or hiring a personal valet to do your surfing."

Re:Email is becoming less and less useful (1)

Kamineko (851857) | more than 7 years ago | (#16118384)

You forgot IRC bots.

Re:Email is becoming less and less useful (1)

Shados (741919) | more than 7 years ago | (#16118421)

Yes, I know. My main point was that in the real world, email is -already- getting useless, so we're already more and more doing without it. For the rest, I guess it depends. As long as other (unrelated) kinds of communications are allowed (like forums), and that data transfer is still possible (like the newish EDI network replacement...err...I forget the name, uses HTTP POST instead of proprietary network), and things like debit cards still work, and so on, email could go away. It hurts more without IM, text messaging and web mail, mind you, but I'd still have my job without such things. I wouldn't, however, if it wasn't for the web.

I agree, IM is just much better. (1)

plasmacutter (901737) | more than 7 years ago | (#16118445)

it's instantaneous, it can be logged in and kept running in the background, it's method of delivery via popup windows is the ultimate lazy man's solution. no checking through web interfaces, no delays as your mail client periodically checks, all messages you miss are right on the desktop, and conversations happen live rather than by email tag.

From an organizational standpoint it's even better.

all messages from one person appear in one window (or tab in the case of some better clients), anything you get pops onto your desktop.. youre FORCED to get rid of clutter.. unlike email where spam can be ignored and is piled up rather quickly.

Finally, because of the way IM works.. you can actually attack spammers with things like aim bombs.. YES.. PAYBACK!

Pron decides (1)

germansausage (682057) | more than 7 years ago | (#16118326)

Pron comes from where?...The web! There's your answer.

Re:Pron decides (1)

9Nails (634052) | more than 7 years ago | (#16118409)

Increase your manhood!
Make them beg for your member!
Horny Housewife wants it up the wazoo!
Cum for hours and hours!
I'm available tonight!
Aphid future peach wheel map

Yeah... Spam sucks... I'll stick with the Internet! Way Better pron than eMail.

E-mail is for spam anyway (1)

tekspot (531917) | more than 7 years ago | (#16118334)

There are numerous other ways to communicate :P

What's the point? (1)

jfengel (409917) | more than 7 years ago | (#16118345)

"Which contributes more to your daily productivity [or enjoyment of life]?" is a valid question.

But you can't take away one or the other (especially just for me) without positing some random, strange change to the world. Why is it gone? Government intervention? Lunatic planting an email-controlled bomb in my head? Broken mouse preventing me from accessing that icon? Bizarre bug in IP routers worldwide?

I gave up asking asking pointless what-if questions as a sophomore. Try rephrasing the question and you might actually learn something. (And the answer appears to be damn-near unanimous by people interpreting what the questioner meant rather than what it said.)

I'd give up... (1)

SniperClops (776236) | more than 7 years ago | (#16118347)

I'd give up email, you can replace it with snail mail, the internet however is not replacable.

Easy (1)

juancnuno (946732) | more than 7 years ago | (#16118354)

I'd choose to lose my email access. I can just call my friends on my phone.

But if you were to take away my Wikipedia and Slashdot, I would just DIE.

Kinda dumb question (1)

interval1066 (668936) | more than 7 years ago | (#16118374)

Its an impractical question since you (almost) in every way, shape, and form have both if you have one. Its just as simple as telling some one that they can have either the cure or the hypdermic, but not both. One without the other doesn't make sense.
Move along, nothing to see here.

useless choice (1)

Spazmania (174582) | more than 7 years ago | (#16118376)

This is a little like saying: "If you had to give up either food or water which would you give up?" Gee, I can live a couple weeks longer without food than without water so I'll give up food!

Okay, maybe that's a little melodramatic. This is a little like saying: "If you had to choose, would you give up buying food and only grow/raise your own or would you give up any form of transportation faster than a horse?"

There's no point in even considering the question. As a practical matter, any civilization shift which requires one of the choices also requires the other.

And perhaps that is the point: in less than two decades email and the web have become as central to our society as the phone, the car and the grocery store.

"Hypothetical?" Pussies! (1)

grcumb (781340) | more than 7 years ago | (#16118386)

Geez, that's what I hate worst about geeks and the Internet. It's all abstractions from someone's parent's basement. I say we do it right this time. Let's have a real death match!

Come on, Email. Everyone calls you the killer app, let's see what you can do. You gonna stand there and let the Web knock you into the corner, or are you gonna do something about it?

And how about you, eh, Web? How 'bout you get off your bloated ass and start throwing some of that weight around? Or maybe you... can't? Wassamatter, Webbie gotta booboo? Come on, Web, FINISH HIM.


Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16118396)

i am not normally a big marty cock fan but in this case i am!!!! go marty cock!!! fight vlad and win!! you will win a normal family soon i do believe, all you have to do is believe and also fight vlad to the tooth

Google Fights!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16118418)

e-mail vs. web []

E-mail wins!

Re:Google Fights!! (1)

ZB Mowrey (756269) | more than 7 years ago | (#16118558)

Not so fast. [] WWW by a mile.

The Blog! (1)

myowntrueself (607117) | more than 7 years ago | (#16118419)


Who needs email?

Web gives you access to your blog!

Blogging via email is called 'spamming'.

(not that I am a blogger, in fact I find the blog phenomenon extremely lame... just saying; web obviously gives more and equivalent functionality).

Pitch email! then re-invent it and reap the profit (2, Insightful)

plasmacutter (901737) | more than 7 years ago | (#16118426)

yep.. since email is implemented via IP packets, you pitch it and straight away code the protocols for the exact same thing.

patent it..

give it away free to pro-gpl and anti-drm groups, and charge proprietary houses and DRM vendors through the nose for your fortune! : )

Re:Pitch email! then re-invent it and reap the pro (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16118725)

Jesus titty-fucking Christ! Not reading the fine article is one thing, but would it really kill you to read the first 2 sentences of the summary before responding?

Sentence 2: Both still exist, just not for you.

I want to say eMail... (3, Funny)

ellem (147712) | more than 7 years ago | (#16118436)

but the prices on v1aGR4 are so good... and a really important person from Nigeria just sent me an offer you will all be jealous of... and besides I don't think the web has all these .scr files I get.

da ladies... (0, Offtopic)

ScottyMcScott (1003155) | more than 7 years ago | (#16118438)

future mother-in-law: so, what do you do? guy: i'm a penetration tester. ....fill in rest.....

What is the Web? (1)

grumbel (592662) | more than 7 years ago | (#16118483)

This is kind of a very theortic exercise, since the web isn't really something clearly defined, neither is email. If we close up the SMTP/POP/IMAP ports there is still all that webmail around, instant messaging, IRC and stuff. Ok, so lets count them all as email, but what about blogs or forums? You can't close them without closing one of the most important aspects of the web, namely that you are not limited to being a consumer, but also can easily become a producer of content. Last not least you could also easily substitude email with SMS or simply by the phone itself, almost everybody has mobile phones these days, so communication wouldn't come to an end just by closing email.

So I would say in the end the web clearly wins, since email really can be easily worked around, while the Web really can't. However turning the web into a passive consume-only medium would clearly be a very large loss, but given the 'rules' of the exersie it wouldn't be an issue since rest of the world would still be participating, so the richness of the web would be preserved.

I would give up email (1)

gluecode (950306) | more than 7 years ago | (#16118500)

I consider democratically generated information over the web more important than email. Also I can access email using web-based email if I have web access.

Blogs + RSS + Ajax apps (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16118528)

You can't have the web without some kind of e-communication. If one didn't exist or you gave up one, the void would be filled by something like subscribing to rss feeds.

Like most people here, if i didn't read email, I'd get fired. If i didn't have web access, I wouldn't have a job!

Web over email (1)

reanjr (588767) | more than 7 years ago | (#16118555)

Gotta pick web over email. It's possible to contact people in other ways than e-mail (snail mail and phone) (and in fact, I rarely use e-mail as it is). Web has no substitute for its price point.

Web wins hands down (1)

istartedi (132515) | more than 7 years ago | (#16118562)

If all I had was e-mail, how would I get people's e-mail addresses? For my current friends and family, I either already have them, or I ask them. All the other e-mail addresses I have come off the Web. Without web, new contacts would be established as they were in pre-internet days. I'd have to find out about clubs, social groups, etc. by reading printed newspapers, attending their meetings, and striking up conversations with people who gave me their business cards. Very ineficient!

With just Web and no e-mail, they could put snail-mail addresses or FAX numbers on their pages and I could send them letters and faxes. Very 1985, but considerably more liveable than the former scenario.

I'm just happy we don't have to make such a silly choice. The two tools have grown together; they feed off eachother.

Another stupid thought experiment (1)

Oligonicella (659917) | more than 7 years ago | (#16118577)

Would you give up liquids or solids?

Maybe, just maybe, those who refused to choose were simply telling the pollster to fuck off?

mv web /dev/null (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16118587)

So long as I got email, usenet, irc, and gopher (archie, w00t!), I'm good to go. Telnet BBS's are excellent replacements for discussion boards. I do 99.9% of my browsing in lynx already today, so it wouldn't be that different anyway.

If I had email or the web... (5, Funny)

argent (18001) | more than 7 years ago | (#16118599)

If I had either SMTP or HTTP it would take me no more than a few days to get the other, and that's if I had to write the proxy myself, using nothing but an Apple ][ and a 300 baud modem. In Forth. Without a language card. On a MONOCHROME monitor. Uphill. In the snow. Both ways.

How about Usenet? Do I get NNTP? Gopher? FTP? Telnet? UUCP?

Christ, what a STUPID question.

Agree with the article (1)

petrus4 (213815) | more than 7 years ago | (#16118600)

For a moment, let's look below the layers of abstraction and ask ourselves...

At its' core, what is email?

It is an application using a protocol that allows for the two-way transfer of ASCII text files. There is hardly a single transfer protocol in existence on the Internet (in fact if there is one, I don't know about it) that does not allow the same. Granted, not all of them *deliver* said text in exactly the same way, but that's because many of them were primarily designed to do other things...but when you think about it...IRC, NNTP, HTTP, (the Web protocol) and Gopher were all designed primarily to transport text. I've seen IRC/email gateway scripts before...if you know enough about both protocols and the syntax involved, they're actually fairly trivial to write. FTP is probably the only protocol I can think of which was designed specifically for binary transfer, rather than text.

The *only* thing that actually really caused the Internet to become mainstream at all was that HTTP started supporting the transfer of graphic images...and it's worth knowing that Tim Berners-Lee, the protocol's inventor, was (AFAIK anywayz) actually initially opposed to that idea.

So sure...block email, and I could work around it. Block the Web, and it'd be a lot more difficult.

I drop email, and hereby adopt ENM (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16118601)

ENM is my attempt at a free and open system for communcation.

ENM stands for ENM is not email.

Thank you.

No, really, thank you.

Of the two, easy: email goes... (1)

Panaqqa (927615) | more than 7 years ago | (#16118607)

I have found email very useful for years, but for the last couple it's usefulness has been declining. There is now so much filtering of spam happening, and at all levels, that I no longer consider email a form of communication to rely on: anything important goes by fax or snail. It seems that these days everybody and his uncle wants to spam filter for you. Sometimes I have found hosting companies simply apply spam filtering to my clients' domains assuming that it is a wanted feature. One client lost 80% of his online orders for a week to a spam filter.

It's a damn shame really - email has such potential. Sure spam is a problem, but often the solution is worse than the problem.

The web? Now, the web I wouldn't want to give up. Can't I give up another Internet protocol instead? Like Telnet maybe?

In one word... (1)

feranick (858651) | more than 7 years ago | (#16118634)

... webmail!

You could live without email. (1)

blanks (108019) | more than 7 years ago | (#16118649)

I dont know why they lump in IM, chat etc for "email" why not instead simply say no forms of communication, but you can still access information, or information and no communication. That is what it really comes down too, and really I wouldnt choose. I'm a web developer, so I need all forms of communication for development, as well as access to the web for; well the projects I'm developing.

I live... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16118656)

I live in a grass hut in Irkutsk, you insensitive clod!

Life without the web wasn't that bad (1)

wayne (1579) | more than 7 years ago | (#16118661)

I suspect a lot of people here have never experienced the Internet without the web.

Let me tell you: it wasn't that bad!

Instead of forums and such, we had mailing lists and usenet. They both uses basically the same format for messages, so you could often use the same client to deal with both. They had some really nice advantages, such as almost all of the UI was done by client. You could easily change how stuff looked and worked anyway you wanted without changing the whole system and all the forums (newsgroups) worked the same. It isn't like web forums and blogs, where some have threading, and some don't, and each has a different navigation system, and most don't have nice ways of just reading new messages.

Before there were things like sourceforge and freshmeat, there were comp.sources.*. When the latest update of something you used was released, you just grabbed it off usenet as it rolled by. If you missed it, you could use ftp or even ftp-mail.

I'm not saying life was better before the web, just that it was quite livable. Almost all of the large multi-user systems I've used since the 1970s have had email, so I guess the web has only been around for less than half my "computer life".

It is no coincidence that spam pretty much killed usenet just went the internet was getting popular. I guess all the different blog/forum systems somewhat protect them from spam since you can't just write a simple program to cross-post your greencard spam to all the blogs/forums like you could with usenet. If spam does end up killing email like it did usenet, life is going to be rough for IM/blogs because spammers will be forced to put their full effort on them.

What about Webmail? (1)

quanticle (843097) | more than 7 years ago | (#16118675)

The title really says it all. Does webmail (GMail, Yahoo Mail, etc.) count as e-mail? Or does it count as part of the web? If I give up web access, will I lose access to webmail sites?

I believe that e-mail and the web are so intertwined, what with HTML e-mails and HTML interfaces to e-mail inboxes (aka webmail) that to eliminate access to one would cripple access to the other?

To answer the question, I would have to say I would rather lose access to e-mail. I'd still have access to my cell phone, and, like others, I would probably be able to set up a discussion board of some sort in order to handle electronic textual communication.

Re:What about Webmail? (1)

quanticle (843097) | more than 7 years ago | (#16118684)

The comment above should read "To eliminate access to one would cripple access to the other.

Spell checkers can't catch grammar errors...
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