Storing email locally
I’ve seen a few people talking about Thunderbird recently, and the idea of email in general. I like email, for private communication — meaning pretty much only one-to-one. For public or group stuff it’s pretty dreadful.
Desktop email, and from Alpine to Thunderbird by Ruben Schade, 20 January 2023:
Shocking nobody who’s dismissed me as a contrarian before, I still use desktop email clients. Even worse, I only made the switch to IMAP from POP for personal email a few years ago, in part owing to the principle of if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. […] They let me archive email locally, which reduces my footprint on a remote third party server somewhere. It’s better for privacy, and potentially cost. […] HTML email though, that’s something I still refuse to budge on… because I’m a gentleman.
The matter of how email is stored, where, and for how long is interesting I think. I’ve been reading (and in some cases scanning and putting online) some old letters from long-dead relatives of mine. It’s an amazing way to hear someone’s voice, and I’m glad that various people in my family have had stable homes (for many decades at a time) and the inclination to not throw things away. It makes me wonder (and I know this is a cliché) how emails and other personal communication will survive the coming decades. It’s just so much easier to lose access, not care, or not even notice when things get deleted.
I used to maintain an email archiving and sending tool for myself. It was plain text, didn’t allow attachments, and produced annual PDF dumps of conversations (unthreaded, purely chronological, and only between two parties). Utterly limited, but I found it not only terrific to use, but it encouraged me to write longer and more detailed emails. The explosion of chat systems came along though, and most of my friends moved to other platforms and didn’t want to email any more, so I’ve let the thing stagnate. Maybe I’ll make it live again some day.