Sunday, October 08, 2006

How can we kill faxing?

How can we kill faxing?

We need to kill it. The fax is a horrid thing. It's much less reliable than it was years ago, and it was never reliable.

Faxing into my Maxemail fax service is unreliable. Faxing from my home machine to Audio-Digest CME is unreliable. Junk faxes abound and are harder to filter than junk email. Fax numbers are busy. Error reporting is lousy. Faxing is just bad. The cost to the world of fax technolology must be horrendous.

It's seemingly easy to come up with a technical solution that would unify email, fax and scanning with security and authentication. Adobe was selling a lot of this technology years ago. The adoption (chicken/egg) problem is a bit tougher. The big problem, however, is patents and intellectual property. For faxing to be replaced we need an Internet Engineering Task Force specification that's unemcumbered by licensing fees and guaranteed to be safe from legal challenge forever.

That's the hard part. Adobe is not known for IP wisdom, though their DNG (digital negative) specification might be a counterexample. It would take a government, Google, or Microsoft to come up with an open specification that vendors can adopt, ideally with Adobe's cooperation. If the muscle is sufficient, Adobe would cooperate, no matter how grudgingly.

If Microsoft would kill fax this way, I'd forgive them for killing OS/2.

Maybe I can get Cringely to write about this ...

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