Email is Not in Danger, Thank You

Yet-another-email-is-dead (OK, just in danger) article, this time by Alex Iskold @ ReadWriteWeb.  Alex adds Twitter‘s increasing popularity to the standard “reusable” arguments: 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 as I did before, and before.  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.  As much fun Twitter may be, I rarely have (or see) serious ongoing discussions there  – in other words Tweets are in addition, instead of email.

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, or an increasing number of online tools supporting native collaboration.  Yesterday I reviewed a startup CEO’s ppt deck, and it took us 4 rounds of emailed versions of the same presentation – it would have been a lot easier to collaborate on just one “master” presentation in Zoho Show.

So yes, I agree with Alex, even in business we’re offloading stuff off email.  But email is far from dead, or even in danger, and it won’t be any time soon. We just have to learn to use the right tool in the right situation. As usual, Rod Boothby says it better in a single chart:

Rod’s chart is almost two years old, but still valid – perhaps I would update it to say “Wiki and collaborative documents”.  My own post here is a slightly updated version of an older one from last year, which in turn was an almost verbatim reprint of another one from July 2006. I rarely re-post old stuff, but in this case I felt it still made a valid point.  Next year, when someone brings up the “is email dead?” question, I’ll dust it off again. smile_tongue

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  1. Zoli – sometimes it’s hard to see the wood for the trees. Every recently grown up gen Y-er that I know uses (as you point out) IM,FB and SMS socially and still uses email heavily in a work situation. Compliance, acceptability and coverage ensure that email is under no short or medium term threat

  2. I agree, e-mail will have it’s place. There are things you can not put on a wiki, cannot put on a blog, or shoot it out over IMs, but have to send it in e-mails.

    Like a “thank you” letter, a summary of a meeting, etc. Polite, bit more personal than a blog, but not too personal stuff belong to the e-mail I think.

    Everything has it’s proper place.As far as I know nothing has replaced the wedge, which is considered the first “simple machine”. 🙂

  3. Ah, yes.. I forgot one of the things I like about e-mails.
    They don’t disrupt my work.
    IMs do. Ringing the phone does. Walking up to my desk does.

    E-mails just sit quietly, patiently and wait for me to respond.

  4. .. absolutely correct, email isn’t dead we just have more options better suited for different tasks – although was very disappointed to hear Twitter have turned off SMS in the UK — it will be interesting to see if this sees the end of its growth here.



  1. […] at ReadWriteWeb kicked things off with a post asking if email is in danger…Zoli Erdos said no…Corvida said […]

  2. […] Email is Not in Danger, Thank You […]

  3. […] all with Alex on this one, but in practice the reality is closer to what Zoli points out in his post. Twitter, IM and SMS are mainly used in a social context. The fact is that most employees will use […]

  4. […] Zoli Erdos pointed out in his blog post Email is Not in Danger, Thank You, wikis are growing as the basis for sharing documents. They provide better capabilities than does […]

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