I think it’s only fair to start this post with a warning. This is more of a rant that any form of coherent or well argued polemic. To me this stuff is as self-evident as the fact that 1+1=2 so I don’t see the need for fancy proofs.

What am I prattling on about? The ‘push phenomenon’ as I call it. You know, push email, push calendaring, that kind of thing. For those of you lucky enough not to have encountered it, push email is a new ‘feature’ in which email gets turned on it’s head. Rather than emails coming in when you ask for them they are pro-actively pushed at your device the moment they arrive at the server. You don’t have to check your email anymore, it comes and harasses you!

[tags]Push Email, Exchange, Apple, iPhone, Microsoft[/tags]

At what point did we cease to be masters of our technology and become slaves to it instead? Well, I for one won’t be partaking in this push nonsense. I will read my email when I want to, not when others want me to. I am in charge of my inbox! Oh, and this push madness is not confined to email, no, you can have calendar appointments foisted upon you too, even contacts! I am fundamentally opposed to this reversing of the client server model. The very name tells you how things should be, the client should be calling the shots with the server answering requests which are initiated by the client. Servers should not be dictating to clients, they should SERVE!

Push email is not a symptom of some new madness that’s just come upon us though. It’s just the latest installment of the philosophy of pervasive harassability (as I call it). You know, the expectation that phones are always answered, emails get instant replies and the notion that being ex-communicado is a bad thing. This is the same philosophy that also gave us another aspect of email that I simply hate, return receipts. I have my client set to tell me when they are requested. I almost always deny them. The reason I ask to be told about them is so I know who is being pushy. Just because I have time to read an email does not mean I have time to reply to it there and then! I don’t appreciate the whole implied pushiness of read receipts. They are just subtle prods in the ribs and come with an implied sound-track “I’m watching you, you’d better reply NOW”.

So what brought on this little rant? Apple’s announcement last week that they are going Microsoft with the iPhone and will provide ‘Enterprise’ features like active sync including push email, push calendaring and push contacts set me off. This new iPhone now seems to have better support for Microsoft Exchange than for OS X servers! This reminds me of another pet peeve of mine, the way “Enterprise” and “Microsoft” have become interchangeable terms. It really bugs me when people talk about enterprise email servers when they really mean Microsoft Exchange servers. The two are not related. It is possible to run a large corporation using standard protocols with software and hardware from other vendors! I don’t get why proprietary closed protocols are seen as a good thing by so many CTOs. By going exchange you are shackling yourself to MS. By contrast, if you use standard protocols like IMAP and SMTP you can use just about any client and you can change your vendor without affecting your users at all. anyway, I digress.

I want to live in a pull world, not a push world. I’ll get my emails when I want to read them. I’ll check my calendar when I want to check it. I don’t want my life dictated to me by my phone! Push email is yet another way in which we are constantly and eternally harassed rather than served by our technology. I for one am not playing ball on this one.