I really do not like HTML emails. I dislike the composition, I hate the disparity in the way they are rendered, I get irritated with the performance and I lament the lack of standards and accessibility across the email clients. I had not given enough thought to it other than reading good articles on them. Unfortunately I know many who use it, and worse, who expect it. So, the only way ahead is to do for email clients what was done for browsers – improve the experience using standards, and someone is thinking about it.
Matthew Patterson announced launch of the Email Standards Project, which is an concrete step in this direction. If you can spare some time, read through the site, and you will be able to answer questions like why are the standards necessary and what can we do about it.
I think there will be a lot of overlap with the generic web standards and I wonder if it should fall under that umbrella. Irrespective of that I hope this gets attention enough to shake up the industry and make it realize that standards are important for the you and me, even if they are only about the email.