Death of email

Been reading a lot today on various blogs about how teenagers are shunning email and don’t see it as being relevant. It’s certainly true for my oldest one (he’s 19 now) he hasn’t checked his email for weeks, probably months. It’s not that he doesn’t spend any time online, far from it, he spends every possible waking moment online either chatting on IM or playing WOW or even Hells Gate London or whatever it’s called. But the one thing he doesn’t use is email. Email is just a way of getting an IM account to use to chat with. Email isn’t cool, it’s not even close. It’s boring, like writing an essay or something. Apparently.

So my experiences tie up with what I am reading around the blogs. Thomas Hawk has a fine article on this subject. As does James Robertson on Smalltalk Tidbits. People are turning away, slowly, from email. Hell, I even wrote an article about this a few months ago, Replacement for email. As people have said, it’s interesting that as older people are just getting into email, the young are turning away from it to social apps like Facebook and Twitter.

To make things feel even odder, today in work I was teaching a group of academics how to use SharePoint MOSS 2007. It was about half way through when I realised that they didn’t know what a blog was. Or a wiki. Or indeed what RSS was or how you could read RSS feeds, or what RSS feeds were. They knew about email. In universities we’ve had email a looong time, way before most people had it. But people in universities are not adverse to writing the odd essay! But all students know about Facebook and wikis and blogs.

We’ve recently has a lot of ex students (alumni) coming out of the woodwork and asking if they can keep their old UWE email account or have one of the new Microsoft Live UWE accounts. Our marketing people have asked us if we can provide emails for students for life. Why? It wasn’t so they can send emails. No. It’s so they can sign up for the UWE Facebook group and keep in touch with old mates from Uni. So now we have a social networking app controlling our corporate IT strategy! That is the power of social networking in action right there!

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One thought on “Death of email

  1. While you make some valid points, I do think it misses one crucial point. My kids also use social networking and neglect email. They also do not use instant messaging programs either. They would rather send message back and forth on MySpace.

    At some point they are going to need to send files to one another and these social networking sites do not allow that. I think these users will jump from new toy to new toy but at some point, they will return to email. I have seen a slow move from POP mail to MIME mail. One more thing is that many employer such as mine blocks access to all social networking sites and all webmail accounts. The only way you can communicate is through company email. I work on an Air Force base and they have their networks locked down. You cannot even load Facebook, MySpace, Xanga, or even Twitter. You cannot even load Flickr.

    Again, while I think both you and Thomas Hawk make some really important points, I really do not think it is likely that email will go by the wayside unless a system similar to it can be implemented where the organization can filter all communications. Even then, it is used as your identity to verify who you are. Your article is very interesting and who knows, it is not completely out of the question.

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