Email is Still Not Dead

Yet-another-email-is-dead-article, this time on Slate. It’s the same old argument: teenagers using IM, or increasingly SMS, and most recently Facebook instead of email which they find cumbersome, slow and unreliable – hence email usage will decline.

I beg to disagree. Sure, I also get frustrated by the occasional rapid-fire exchange of one-line emails when by the 15th round we both realize the conversation should have started on IM. Most of teenagers’ interaction is social, immediate, and SMS works perfectly well in those situations. However, we all enter business, get a job..etc sooner or later, like it or not…smile_wink Our communication style changes along with that – often requiring a build-up of logical structure, sequence, or simply a written record of facts, and email is vital for this type of communication.

Email in business is being “attacked” from another direction though: for project teams, planning activity, collaboratively designing a document, staging an event… etc email is a real wasteful medium. Or should I say, it’s the perfect place for information to get buried. This type of communication is most effective using a wiki. No, email is not dead, and it won’t be any time soon. But we all have to learn to use the right tool in the right situation. As usual, Rod Boothby says it better in a single chart:

(The above post is an almost verbatim reprint of an older one from July 2006. I rarely re-post old stuff, but in this case I felt it was still a valid point. And it still will be, next year when someone declares email dead again. smile_tongue)

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  1. There is actually not much difference between facebook messages and email. To say that kids don’t use email is not strictly true in this sense. The main advantage of messages within a social network is that there is no spam. I’d love to see this built into next generation of email; the total elimination of all unsolicited communication. Anyone who wanted to contact me by email would have to ‘introduce’ themselves first just like you do in a social network. This would also provide a simple way for us to exchange profile information.

  2. I market an Enterprise Wiki. What we are hearing from the marketplace corroborates a lot of what this post says: People are tired of dependence on email to share and locate relevant information. People are also tired of “occupational spam” — the proclivity to cc and bcc people on emails not relevant to them.

    However, enterprises still need some amount of email integration into every collaborative tool they use. They want tools like Wikis to be a good source to distill out information relevant to them, and in some cases they need email to alert them of updates to relevant content.

    To summarize, email is not dead but is definitely loosing its sheen.


  1. […] “death of email.” As Zoli Erdos notes in his response, this kind of thing comes along pretty regularly — email is dead, the kids don’t use it any more, […]

  2. […] Email is Still Not Dead| Zoli’s Blog (tags: enterprise2.0 email) Rate This Post: […]

  3. […] Email is Still Not Dead (Zoli’s Blog) “Yet-another-email-is-dead-article, this time on Slate. It’s the same old argument: teenagers using IM, or increasingly SMS, and most recently Facebook instead of email … – hence email usage will decline. I beg to differ. (tags: email trends) […]

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