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Hypothetical Death Match - E-mail vs. the Web 170

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.'"
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Hypothetical Death Match - E-mail vs. the Web

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  • by MrNaz ( 730548 ) * on Friday September 15, 2006 @09:23PM (#16118243) Homepage

    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."

    • 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.
    • by Entropy ( 6967 )

      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.
    • Thread ends here. Nothing can top that.



      You sir, are a genius.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by msobkow ( 48369 )

      Once Bob was done with his dramatic thrashing, flailing, sweating, and panic, the IT department decided for him: no email.

      One way or the other, Bob would be forced to speak to a human being.

      "Better unplug the fax machine, too."

  • The web (Score:5, Insightful)

    by free space ( 13714 ) on Friday September 15, 2006 @09:25PM (#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 :)
    • 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 d

    • Well it's just between giving up web or e-mail, so I'll give up e-mail and use IM instead.
    • by Carthag ( 643047 )
      shit, im online all the time and I get less spam in my IM app than I get in my email. I could easily do without email, I'd just tell friends to leave me a note on msn/aim/icq/jab/etc
  • by Deltaspectre ( 796409 ) on Friday September 15, 2006 @09:26PM (#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?
    • Comment removed (Score:4, Insightful)

      by account_deleted ( 4530225 ) on Friday September 15, 2006 @09:35PM (#16118307)
      Comment removed based on user account deletion
    • by MarkusQ ( 450076 ) on Friday September 15, 2006 @09:45PM (#16118353) Journal
      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.

    • by dcapel ( 913969 )
      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...
    • 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 an

      • IM will probably replace email in the same way that telephones replaced paper mail. In other words, it will replace them for informal communications with friends and family, but for more formal communication, or for sending things you need to keep for future reference, email and paper mail are much more suitable.
    • I've always preferred the phone or in-person conversations to email. I barely even read the email that I have. Coworkers that prefer to email or IM you to getting up and just talking to you bug the heck out of me. I'm three cubicles away! You could get my attention by just raising your voice if you're too lazy to get out of the seat!

      At any rate, the web provides me with useful information and infinite diversion. Email provides me with... a slow, inefficient, redundant method of communication. There's
  • No contest! (Score:2, Funny)

    by gasmonso ( 929871 )

    The Internets and it's vast network of tubes is far superior to email. Porn is on the net, not in email. []
    • 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!
    • If you need porn in your mailbox, someone will figure out a way to do it. One frame at a time if they need to!

      FWIW, you obviously don't get the same spam that I do...
    • > Porn is on the net, not in email.

      For a nice little disproof of that statement, just turn your spam filter down a couple notches ;)
  • 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: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by orangesquid ( 79734 )
      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...
  • 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!
  • qualify as news here now?
    • Yeah, I was gonna vote for Kirk...
    • What if I had spent my college money on yahoo stock?
      What if I had asked out the girl in HS chemistry?
      What if I had not drank a case a beer that one night?
      What if I had learned to speak spanish?
      What if eric hadn't gone to africa?
      What if diebold didn't make electronic voting machines?
      What if ford had planned ahead better?

      I've always wondered about the first one, and lately I'm becoming a bit currious about number 6.
  • by celardore ( 844933 ) on Friday September 15, 2006 @09:30PM (#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.
    • 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.

      Quite the primadonna, isn't we?!

      • by NaDrew ( 561847 )

        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.

        Quite the primadonna, isn't we?!

        I don't think so. One of the benefits of working in the tech industry, in general, is the ability to choose your own work schedule. Within reason, anyway. I tend to start my lunch hour between noon and two, depending on my workload and how I'm feeling that day. When a company starts mandating things that don't nee

  • 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 :-)
    • to be honest, its easier to just give a call to explain a problem or to ask for something.

      Couldn't agree more, I'm a "credit controller" (I work in accounting and get debtors to pay my company). A phonecall pretty much always yields better results. EG:

      Hi there can I speak to the accounts payable please?

      Hi, I'm calling from this company, and you owe us money. Can we have it please?

      Sure you can have your money, I'll write a cheque up today

      Thanks for that. What was your name again?

      That's how a c

  • by Quaoar ( 614366 ) on Friday September 15, 2006 @09:30PM (#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.
    • 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
    • by dodobh ( 65811 )
      I find phones obnoxious, they interrupt my time (and picking up the phone is an interrupt).

      IM is nicer, and email is even better because they let me communicate when I want to (or am able to). Phones are for emergencies, email for normal communication. I telecommute, so email is a bit more important (International calls are expensive).
  • 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.
  • 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: (Score:3, Informative)

      by kv9 ( 697238 )
      the web is also, to use your own words, "a subset of the internet". rtfa/blurb again.
    • 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 st
  • 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.

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

      1. Messaging services
      2. VOIP
      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.
    • Try doing any shopping or registering with any new websites or online services without an email account.
  • Why isn't this just a new /. poll?
  • If I didn't have the web, I wouldn't have to put up with questions like this.
  • 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!
    • 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.
  • 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.
    • 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.
    • Real books don't go out of style with the newest version of the hardware and/or software.

      Sure they do, they just have a much longer development cycle. This [] might be considered like 50s era tech.
  • 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: (Score:3, Informative)

      by nacturation ( 646836 )
      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.
  • 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
    • 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 pop
  • "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 m
  • 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 w
  • 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? Wassamatte

  • Pah!

    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).
  • by plasmacutter ( 901737 ) on Friday September 15, 2006 @10:01PM (#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! : )
  • by ellem ( 147712 ) * <ellem52 AT gmail DOT com> on Friday September 15, 2006 @10:05PM (#16118436) Homepage Journal
    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.
  • 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
  • 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

  • Would you give up liquids or solids?

    Maybe, just maybe, those who refused to choose were simply telling the pollster to fuck off?
  • by argent ( 18001 ) <peter.slashdot@2006@taronga@com> on Friday September 15, 2006 @11:06PM (#16118599) Homepage Journal
    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.
  • 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
  • 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 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

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

      Spell checkers can't catch grammar errors...
  • From the viewpoint of my daily job: Only e-mail... it allows for people communicating, it's easy to filter crap (virusses, spam and anything else larger than 25Mb) out at the entrance and it doesn't allow for stupid uncontrollable flash,wmv,avi to clog up the bandwidth or people to go randomly to random sites to waste time. I know the web can be filtered by proxy, but that bring much more trouble with it than benefit.

    From the viewpoint of my private life: I can get to my e-mail through the web, I can use fo
  • by LS ( 57954 )
    Retarded. News. Story.


    I heard that Taco and crew are gonna smoke weed and sit on the couch thinking of more "what ifs" for tomorrow's stories as well. Perhaps there should be a new "what if" section for slashdot!
  • It's near on useless with the amount of spam these days anyway. Yes I have severe amounts of filtering. Unfortunately my address(es) were amongst those stolen from various nic registries before the addresses were hidden.

    I could still communicate without e-mail, simply give people a web form address to send me stuff :D

  • Just set up a message board website that hides comments for everyone but those who can authenticate. Your address is now your URL.

    Or is that cheating?
  • Can I give up both email and the web? Please?

    HSJ$$*&#^!#+++ATH0. NO CARRIER ...

  • I spent last year in a tiny outpost up on the high Antarctic plateau [] where we had no web access, but limited email (two coms a day, only small messages). I managed to do everything important with email, even reading slashdot (thanks to email-to-web portals) and updating my website. I've been using email for exactly 20 years and it would be very hard to give up this regular contact with friends and family, even though spammers are really ruining it for everyone, including me (I had to dispose of my original
  • The article talks about not cheating. That means you can no use webmail to cheat having no email. But the answer lies in not being able to cheat with finding a substitute for the web. This mean no HTML postings, because that would mean that you were sending webpages via mail.

    I believe we are on to something here. No HTML emails or usenetpostings anymore. W00t!
  • The web can implement email. It's considerably harder for email to implement the web. Webmail sucks, but using SMTP as a web browser would suck more.
  • Email is a service that's older than the internet. It's a hodgepodge of crummy protocolls bolted on oneanother throughout the years, spoiled by a bunch of incompliant clients and their interpretation of how email is supposed to look. 4 standards of encryption and millions of people who think the way outlook breaks email is ok. There is no way that email will ever get repaired. It would be best if email would die on the spot and be replaced by a strictly enforced open standard with integrated threading, sepe
  • Ok here's another one. Now, we know our computers work with binary data: 0 and 1.
    But which one would you chose? Now, they both exist, but not for you. So what would it be? 1 or 0?

    Stay tuned for more pointless polls and 11.
  • So there are stupid questions, after all.

    The question ignores the fact that this strange "Internet" thing is built on multi-purpose protocols. How, exactly, do you intend to enforce Layer-7 limitations on a Layer-3 network?

    If I can only have web, it'll take me gmail and a minute at most to have e-mail as well. If I can only have e-mail, surfing the web will be slow, but there are still sites out there that'll send you any website as an e-mail in response to an e-mail request and it should be trivial to auto
  • The web can be substituted by... hrm. FTP? Not really. Gopher? Hah! Maybe if the web was disabled for everyone, but this is just me... nothing on Gopher anymore. Telnet, ssh? Nope.

    But email can be substituted by many other things. Message boards, instant messaging, comment threads, IRC... there are a hundred ways to communicate on the Internet, but only one way to put up content for others to view.

    So I choose to lose email. I wouldn't even miss it much.

    The Raven
  • That's the way the challenge should be explained. You can use the web, but no posting, no forums no webmail no IRC etc. I'd still probably have to go with the web, as long as I can send faxes from work.
  • ...and not just in Korea.

    If you asked the average person under 20 if they'd give up email or the web, they'd definitely give up email since the only time they probably ever use it is to register for websites that require it, or MAYBE to talk to some of their older relatives.

    If they really need to leave someone a message, they can do it on myspace, or if the person's a good friend you SMS their cellphone... ...but might as well just tell them personally via IM when you next see them online.
  • Which would you rather do without: protons or electrons?

    Conceivably, these sorts of questions could give rise to interesting debate. Or you could get a life.

Q: How many IBM CPU's does it take to execute a job? A: Four; three to hold it down, and one to rip its head off.