The public internet era brought a growing deluge of technology and communication options to the masses. Today’s premium smartphones are much like mini-supercomputers in your pocket, capable of doing much of what desktop and notebook PCs did exclusively in the past, yet available to more than a billion people worldwide.
Funny thing, and a true story, one of the original killer apps in the internet age remains the most impressive killer app ever. No, it’s not the browser, although you could be forgiven for choosing it to top the list. Browsers are important, but less so in the age of mobile applications for the masses.
The original killer app is email. Since the public internet launched in the mid-1990s, it was email that everyone needed more than browsing, and it’s email that remains the killer app but maybe in ways somewhat different than you think.
First, email was called the killer app because it became the de facto way people communicated with one another over the public internet. If you used the internet, had an internet service provider, or worked for a company that handed out email accounts, you used email.
Second, over time email became a different kind of killer app because email users found themselves swimming in a deluge of email messages, replies, CCs, and spam. Email was and remains the app that kills time, decimates morale, and turned once productive employees into reply zombies who accomplished less work but spent more hours doing it.
Third, over time some of us learned not to leave a digital paper trail, and avoided using email for anything except mundane communication. Controversial, secret, opinionated, or hard-nosed messages are best delivered in person, not through electronic mail.
What a pity it is that America’s elected politicians have yet to figure that out, but the lessons are visible for all to see, plainly written on the public walls of today’s news.
Email reigns as the killer app of the 21st century.
Just ask Bill Gates, just ask Hillary Clinton, and now just ask DNC chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz. What were they thinking when they used their email accounts to disparage others or discussed information that should have remained secret?
Back in Bill Gates days email was how tech folk communicated and the subject matter and its contents didn’t matter. That misuse of email caused Gates and Microsoft tremendous harm as the government used their email messages to prove Microsoft abused its monopoly in the marketplace.
Let’s give Hillary Clinton the benefit of the doubt and say that her personal email server was to be used only for personal messages, not State Department messages. As anyone with multiple email accounts– personal and business– already knows, it’s easy to get messages mixed up between the two accounts when only one device was used, and it’s always more convenient to use one smartphone than two.
Email didn’t work out so well for Clinton, and thanks to WikiLeaks it hasn’t worked out so well for Debbie Wasserman Schultz who used email to disparage Clinton competitors.
What were they thinking?
Listen folks, email remains the killer app of the 21st century because it can kill more than time, it can kill careers.