Last Known Issue Volume I Issue 5
The end of email? I’ve been following some articles with interest that industry thought leaders believe email is a dying technology and new forms of communication evolving through social media will soon change our lives.
I read this with interest because one of the primary frustrations that we share with our clients day in and out is the management, support, archiving, spam filtering, time wasting, your-mailbox-is-over-its-size-limit, I didn’t get your email, the-attachment-is-too-big-to-send world of email. It’s not that people don’t like email but it certainly can be a pain in the proverbial.
Not all predictions about the Internet have come true so far, just like we’re not all zooming around in flying cars just yet - (wasn’t that supposed to have happened by now?) but if email is in fact headed toward the end of its life as a technology, what will replace email?
The current research or thinking is based on the fact that next generation internet users (the under 21′s or so) reportedly barely use email at all. With the rise of mobile devices, Facebook, Twitter and text messages over the last several years it’s believed that young people just don’t get email – they see it as a spam ridden waste of time compared to the dynamic world of social networking where they can pick and choose categories of relevant content as well as block content and people they don’t like.
On the other hand – not that I fall into the under 21 category I still can remember a time not so long ago that I didn’t really use email either – perhaps before I had an office job.. why? I didn’t really need it, for me it’s only ever served as a business tool – before that I was happy to send a text message, make a phone call or chat with my friends online. After all, I did have a lot more time on my hands than I do these days. I’m just not so sure using < 21′s as a guideline for the future of a business tool is viable research just yet.
With that said, I can see the advantages of moving away from traditional email as our primary form of online communication.
From tablets to.. tablets If you look at how we interact with our computers we’re still very much trying to mimic the real world with the virtual world. Most of our presentations are still based on old slide shows but that’s changing, our Word documents are shaped like A4 or Letter size pages (because we used to print a lot more than we do today) and our monitors still look a lot like television screens (or do our television screens now look like monitors?). The new wave of tablets such as the iPad’s resemble prehistoric concepts of real “tablets” but obviously smaller, lighter and sexier. Now that we have this virtual playground we’re starting to see new forms of communications that go against traditional mediums but it will take some time before we make that complete shift and it will probably take an even younger generation of Internet users to help us make that shift. This new generation have more creative freedom in the virtual world because they won’t be as tied down to design concepts of the non-digital world.
Whilst this is all very compelling, I don’t believe we’ll be seeing the likes of Outlook and Gmail disappear from our lives very soon. Conceptually email formats may change perhaps with more use of video, audio and short tweet messages but this doesn’t signify the end of email – “electronic mail” is not going to be replaced but will rather evolve into newer and more efficient ways of communication as we break free of the real world and move further into the virtual.
Handling your email today We’ve got a long way to go before letting go of email at work so a few months ago I put together this article on managing your email more efficiently. Seeing as we are not zooming around in our flying year 2000+ cars yet and we’re still stuck in front of our email for the time being, you might find a few handy hints to relieve the frustration of email overload at work. http://jamesvickery.com.au/why-your-email-is-like-chewing-gum/