The Lindy effect is a theory that states the life expectancy of something like a business or idea is proportional to it’s current age. It was popularized recently by Nassim Taleb in his book Antifragile.

If a book has been in print for forty years, I can expect it to be in print for another forty years. But, and that is the main difference, if it survives another decade, then it will be expected to be in print another fifty years. This, simply, as a rule, tells you why things that have been around for a long time are not “aging” like persons, but “aging” in reverse. Every year that passes without extinction doubles the additional life expectancy. This is an indicator of some robustness. The robustness of an item is proportional to its life!

I’m not here to argue whether or not it’s true, but I think email is a great example of the Lindy effect. Email was invented in the 1960’s, making it over 50 years old. It’s not showing any signs of dying, infact quite the opposite. The distrust in centralized social networks and the second coming of newsletters support this assertion. Email is a fairly complex protocol but doesn’t try to be more than it needs to - a means of sending and receiving messages. This simplicity creates longevity and supports email as a “Lindy” technology.

If email will be around for another 50 years - it would be interesting to see what that looks like in 2070.