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The social network wars are over. The winner: email!

Mike Elgan | June 3, 2013
Rampant innovation in email has transformed it into the best social network on the Internet.

Dropbox launched an iPad version of Mailbox last week and promises an Android version soon.

Email as a platform
Beyond intelligence, integration and interface improvements, the status of email as a platform is one of the most intriguing developments.

Email applications are getting more features all the time. But increasingly, if your email service lacks a feature you want, you can add it with a plug-in or add-on.

A new world of Gmail and Outlook add-ons, which are actually browser extensions, enable you to do things like delay the sending of email, track messages and get notifications when recipients open your message. Some of the best ones are Boomerang, Bananatag and Right Inbox.

Other add-ons let you get around file attachment size limitations. Still others serve specific professionals, such as salespeople.

Email add-ons and plug-ins have become so numerous that I can't even list all the categories. To find them, simply search the Web for "Gmail plugins" or "Outlook plugins."

Why email is the best social network
Email is not only the biggest, most important and in some ways most vibrant social network, it's also the best.

The reason is that as social networks become more automated and algorithmically determined, and noisy and full of intrusive advertising, email provides a user interface to those same networks, but with you in control.

Using the notification settings on each social network, as well as the filters or rules on your email service and browser add-ons and plug-ins, you can get all the benefits of all your social networks -- including the same people -- without most of the irritating downsides.

By all means, let's discover and explore social networking sites and spend time enjoying our favorites.

But don't forget that email isn't just the oldest social network, it's also the biggest, the broadest, the most user-controllable, the most integrated, the most powerful and ultimately the best social network on the Internet.

 

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