Reading Roger Johansson’s post this morning – The Email Standards Project launches – its clear to see the Email Standards Project is gaining momentum. Nobody can argue that interoperablity of any technology is a bad thing. They can however argue that HTML email is not necessarily the right thing (read Matt Robin‘s comments on the WaSP post). Yes HTML email is here to stay and yes there would be some sanity in having it render across email clients consistently. Yet I’m left with these nagging questions of my own about the marriage of web standards and HTML email. Something just feels uneasy about having the web standards movement suddenly condone, even via the back door, the use of HTML email.
Who sends HTML email? Let me put it this way then – do normal everyday people send HTML email to each other? No?
So to some extent the conversation about HTML email and the Email Standards Project is actually a marketing one. As opposed to a standardista one. HTML email is a marketing tool which could be made more efficient for marketers and business people to get their corporate message out there complete with branding. I can see from a marketing perspective that this is a good thing. Contact means potential leads and it translates to revenue.
I just think to some extent this relationship between HTML email and marketing is either understated in the conversation or so implicit in it that it might be missed. Not by Mathew and the guys who are passionately focused on bringing this to the fore though, I mean overlooked by some who would simply go with the first intuitive answer that interoperability is never a bad thing in itself.
In other words I think what I’m suggesting is this isn’t really a web standards conversation. Its a marketing conversation. Its a conversation perhaps between web developers who might work for marketers who want to create HTML email brochures.
Which then brings me back to the uneasy relationship between HTML email and SPAM. Now isn’t that like me fixing the robber’s gun while he rifles through my wallet? Why does this company, for example, want to send me HTML email? Just a question.
I think this is a good point to be asking questions if we’re going to be allied significantly as standardistas to the HTML email conversation. Just my 2 cents.