Structured email aims to help user with processing email in a more efficient and meaningful way.
Many emails nowadays are well-structured, transactional messages generated by software, which ask users to take particular actions. As email clients cannot make sense of these messages, users are still stuck with mostly manual work answering these emails.
In this sense, email can be considered as kind of a “personal API” of many internet users. It allows to send requests to users based on standardized and unique addresses, which may yield direct responses. However, user’s “implementation” of their personal API is widely manual, even if requests might be automated to some extent.
Often considered an old and aging technology, email indeed can also be seen as modern in terms of data sovereignty, based on its highly interoperable and decentralized nature. Essentially, it is probably the only major standardized technology which allows users to easily bridge between their private information space (e.g., mobile device or desktop computer) and the public internet.
Partially a victim of its own success, the email ecosystem is scattered into various actors and solutions, making it hard to keep pace with rapidly evolving innovations on the internet. Structure email hence is also an attempt, to keep email as an open and decentral standard on a par with other proprietary communication technologies.
Goals of the structured email initiative are to:
- Provide documentation, examples and an overview about existing tools
- Facilitate the creation and maintenance of Open Source libraries
- Increase standardization and adoption of structured email approaches
- Offer a forum for the discussion of issues and future topics