There was a time when I thought that fax machines were obsolete. The more I think about it, the more I conclude that they could be obsolete, but for some reason they aren’t (the same is true of pagers). Rather than arguing that they should be obsolete, I would argue that there should be a way for people to send a fax to an email address.
I am not talking about efax.com or any of the other services that you can sign up with (often for free) to have faxes delivered to your email. Those still require that you have a fax number. Someone sends a fax to your fax number (which is maintained by efax) and they route the fax to your email address. They can even convert the fax into a different file format, like PDF or TIF which can be read by software that your probably already have.
I m talking about a system, perhaps a device that could be connected to the fax machine, that could be used to send a fax directly to an email address rather than a phone number. This allows those that have legitimate uses for faxes to continue using them and have access to the many people who do not have a fax machine. While we’re at it, perhaps we should create some kind of software that can send any printable file as a fax – oh wait, we already have that in the form of fax software programs.
On a side note – this is another example of how technology leaps ahead of us and we have to scramble to keep up with what is available. This scrambling is what leads to mistakes like DRM and obsolete laws like traditional copyright and DMCA.