Death of Email?

Tue, 2008-03-11 23:31

On various occasions and with different groups, I have mentioned that I consider email to have passed away. Folks tend to look at me with shock and maybe a little fear. No doubt they had intended to email me with their complaints later in the day. Not to worry, I still check my inbox as often as ever, it is just that there are many more efficient ways to communicate nowadays.

It is risky for me to trust email anymore when I have something important to say. I pick up the phone with a followup if it is very important. In all truth, the fifty some odd phone calls I made in the last week were as a result of a unsuccessful USPS mailing, and not particularly due to lack of delivery.

There is not much you can do if the people are not motivated to read your message, but there have been plenty of instances where parties have been intent on communicating. This past summer I played ferry with emails several times because individuals were able to contact me but not each other. I also have a newsletter that I send out every week for half the year. I always wonder how many of the messages reach their destination.

RSS could solve the problem of the newsletter delivery problem but it has not yet caught on with the majority of users. Personal communication is a little trickier. Tantek Çelik has a good article on email usability or lack thereof, and while I agree with most of his points I don't think his methods would work with people who are not online a good deal.

I also think sometimes people are reluctant to start a conversation through IM. It can be intrusive but people do understand that you have to leave every now and then. IM does seem to be my preferred method of communication. Twitter is much more haphazard with the bits you need getting lost in all the chatter. I do see value in Twitter as well, however.

It is interesting that there are so many different means of communication to choose from. No doubt new methods will be coming along, and existing technology will be used in different ways. Who knows, someone may well discover a way to revive the old email.

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