Some people seem to enjoy proclaiming the death of e-mail. Personally, it's probably still my favourite channel - maybe that's the nostalgia juice kicking in ("Geez, is it internet twilight time already? I ain't even 30 yet."), but with age and legacy, it's also kept alive the spirit of the Hack.
Not in a phlegmy way, or a journalistic way, or indeed some nose-curling combination. I mean, one: e-mail is decentralised - register a domain, set up your own server, or buy up an ISP, use your client to connect. No relying-on-some-free-wheeling-company to throw interpersonal messages in on top of their service - either pay for it, or DIY.
two is that it's an endpoint. Things go to an e-mail address like your first-born son heading into a cave to fight a dragon. You don't expect anything to come back, but it'd be nice. And despite inherent biases in character sets, generally the more basic the e-mail is, the more chance it has of getting through. There's a lovely filtering process going on there, especially when combined with modern information overload - stick to the basics, and you might make it. All you need is a tin pot for a helmet, and a stick for a sword!
three: I can play with it once it gets here. For me, playing takes the form of a giant procmail script and a gamut of Perl weapons. Does it always work? No, not after a few whiskies and an upside-down vim cheatsheet. Is it fun? Well, what else is the Internet for?
Are there better ways of storing and looking after our conversations? Definitely. I know GMail has upped the ante a bit, but there's always a trade-off for server-side solutions, including web-based ones - in this case, my procmail scripts. Getting a good e-mail client is harrrrd - Tristan heading off to find a falling star has nothing in comparison. Searching and threading are good yay. I'm surprised I haven't seen GMail-style conversation threading in a client though (is it patented?) Still, I'm sure a whole bunch more could be done - intelligent handling of crappy quoting, for instance? (Curse you, mailing-list-digests-of-repetition.) Finding a client with decent IMAP integration on top is like discovering the perfect noodle.
But I'm looking forward to being able to use e-mail in 10 years' time as all these younger whippersnappers ("Oi, get out of our way, e-grandad!") realise they're there to fill a very temporary niche...