The future of the newsletter and e-mail

December 31, 2014 by Amara D. Angelica

Oculus Rift: millions sold in 2015? (credit: Samsung)

In “The return of the newsletter,” Wired notes today that with better spam filters and other tools, non-stop overload from Facebook and Twitter, and the death of RSS, newsletters are “making something of a comeback.”

The article mentions KurzweilAI News and nine other newsletters, including mini-AIR, the newsletter of the hilarious Annals of Improbable Research magazine, noted for its annual Ig Nobel Prizes (such as one earlier this year for “Seeing Jesus in Toast: Neural and Behavioral Correlates of Face Pareidolia” (seriously) in the journal Cortex.

Another traditional medium, email, is also doing well. On Tuesday (12/30), the PewResearch Internet Project reported that 78% of American workers who use the Internet in office-based occupations say email is “very important” for doing their job. That compares to just 7% using social networking sites in their work.

But despite the productivity gains from email and the Internet claimed by 58% of office-based workers (and the increased flexibility), 47% of those workers say the Internet, email, and cell phones have increased the amount of time spent working. Oops.

Email and the Internet have also increased security worries. Stimulated by the Sony debacle, 2015 will be the year that message encryption (and deletion) goes mainstream, as “people decide that it may not be a good idea to have a copy of every message sent stored forever online,” suggests Ty Burr in a roundup of 2015 predictions in the Boston Globe.

Meanwhile, on KurzweilAI Forums, “syl799” has started a “2015 Predictions” thread, to be revisited next December. Among the predictions so far: “Deep Mind exceeds human level performance playing Doom” (by “Captn”), “second-generation virtual assistants come online, they become very tightly integrated with our daily life” (“iPan”), and “about 3 million [Oculus Rift] devices are sold in the first 80 days” (“andmar74”). Feel free to add yours here.