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29 November 2007

The Death of Email?

Do you remember when email was fun? There was a time when it was a great thrill to dial-up to the Internet, log into your email account and sift through the handful of messages from friends and family. Businesses too were impressed with the technology as a way of managing work flow and avoiding superfluous phone calls. Over time the business use of email has come to dominate and the amount of personal email sent has diminished. Which is when email started to fall apart.

In the beginning email was novel, an exciting tool. We didn’t have nearly the same volume of email flooding our inboxes so it was more pleasurable for us to exchange messages with friends and family. As businesses started utilizing email and computers grew as part of everyone’s daily life, it became more associated with work. Along with work email came a flood of spam, and it is hard to emphasize the negative impact this has had on email. Thomas Hawk has a fun read on this topic.

With everyone texting, IMing, Facebooking, and Twittering these days, some say email could be headed the way of snail mail. Which is, people will probably keep on using it, but it won't be the crucial method of communication. Except for spammers, of course. Which brings us to the next phase - what is bound to eventually happen in social networks?

Facebook et al are held as the way forward - but that's for now because they are still novel. Wait till businesses and spammers get a hand on them and find loopholes in the system of our connections which currently have our "friends and family" only. Wasn't junk mail, apart from being slow, one of the reason for the downfall of regular post?

What's more, these "cool" new ways of connecting are woefully inefficient as communication tools. For example, take a look at the number of transactions you need to undertake to read a Facebook message. My personal perspective is that email, or rather Gmail, is still the crucial method of communication and it will never die. Yes, it's not fun as it used to be, but hey - it still works. What do you think?

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