While there are countless benefits from having an electronic mailbox, email has more than a few problems. Messages have to travel from one server to another and if either one is down or malfunctioning, those messages may not make it. Spam, phishing emails, and even bacn (automated mail that you have requested) have made email almost as frustrating as it is helpful. Even organizing and storing email can be a hassle with certain delivery systems.
Are there alternatives? Well the phone requires both parties to be actively talking and cannot be easily archived. Instant messenger (IM) is better, but doesn't have the same "formal letter" feel that you can get from email. What really needs to happen is the creation of a new protocol that fixes the difficulties with email while moving the technology forward.
One promising candidate is Corlive, a free service that attempts to correct some of the problems inherent in traditional email. It is fundamentally different from other message sites because it uses HTML links as its primary distribution method.
Corlive is best explained by how it is used, so here are the basic instructions:
- First, go to Corlive.com and register a username.
- Tip: Get yours now, because almost all of them are still available.
- This will create an online inbox that receives all incoming messages.
- Take the link that it generates for you and put it anywhere online or in your email signature.
- It's that simple!
One of the best things about Corlive is that it doesn't require all of your friends to join before they can talk to you. Simply give them the link and they can write you immediately. You can check for messages manually on the website or download their lightweight program that monitors your inbox. It will notify you when you have a message.
If you want to try it out, send me a test message here. Notice I used one of their features: auto-population of the subject line. When you send a message from my link it will automatically say "Mason Tech Beat Is Helping Me Test Corlive."
This is accomplished by modifying the HTML in the link. Let's take a look:
- The basic link is http://corlive.com/loyaleagle. My username is "loyaleagle."
- If I want to modify it, I add "?subject=" on the end, followed by my desired subject.
- It comes out as, "http://corlive.com/loyaleagle?subject=Mason Tech Beat Is Helping Me Test Corlve"
There are several uses for this kind of auto-population control, but one of the best I can think of is to leave a contact address on a website for specific kinds of messages. If you wanted to use the link for requests about bugs on your website, for instance, you could have the subject line read "Bug Report: [Name Your Bug]." This way your visitors would understand how to format the subject line of their emails.
Corlive has told me specifically that they plan on creating a system for folder organization. With a syntax similar to the one mentioned above, you will be able to send messages from a link directly to any one of your custom folders. This will be even better for sorting "friendly emails" from "requests for service."
They also plan on providing support for message forwarding as well as a threaded message interface (much like that of a forum or Gmail). To make money, Corlive will be adding a small amount of advertising in an "unobtrusive" way. This is probably a good plan for them as mail websites get a lot of page-loads per user and bulky ads would become annoying very quickly.
As Corlive is an "internal" service, in the sense that all of the messages float around within one server, it offers a different quality of service. You won't experience problems with one server not talking to the other properly. On the other hand, if their main server goes down, you're totally out of luck.
Right now, Corlive doesn't seem to have much in the way of security. One thing that they brag about is the lack of spam. Their staff sent me this explanation of how they prevent automated messages, "Every user, after sending more than x messages in 24 hours will see a captcha and will be required to answer it. "Normal" users won't be bothered, and spammers or bots will be." This seems like a fairly solid strategy. Just remember that many bots can now read captchas with very powerful image-mapping algorithms.
There's a lot to know about Corlive. To keep it all straight, here's a few things that I do and don't like about Corlive:
- Messages are guaranteed to get to their recipient unless Corlive itself is down.
- Spam is supposedly not an issue.
- It is very straight-forward and easy to use.
- It resembles a profile on a social network more than a specific "email address."
- Links have a great syntax and can easily be used to add more features to an email.
- You can use it now. You don't have to wait until it becomes popular.
- It has very few features at the moment.
- It is heavily dependent on a single group of servers.
- It may have trouble scaling up. Look what happened to Twitter.
- It doesn't appear to be very secure right now.
- There is no API, interoperability with other services, mobile version, or even more than a few profile options - a beta in the true sense of the word
My Wishlist for Corlive:
- An app to generate URLs with auto-population data already attached
- A blog that details updates about Corlive
- All of the basic features one already expects to see in email
- A better notification program - the current one is basically an overzealous text file.
- New and innovative ways to distribute the link and for others to interact with the system
Give it a try, send a message or two, and let me know what you think! Also, weigh in on whether you think Corlive is a rather boring sounding name or not.
[Email Image from Travel The Home Exchange Way]