Well, I’ve currently got a bit of spare time at work so I thought I’d write up a blog post. Last week, I alluded to Facebook’s new messaging platform and how it wouldn’t lead to the death of email. The reason why it wouldn’t is because email isn’t intended to be instant communication.
Well, fast forward to today. All weekend long and especially today, I have been locked out of my email account. There’s a network wide issue at work affecting a certain group of users within a particular domain here at work; the net result is that I cannot read my email. Microsoft Outlook cannot connect to Exchange server and therefore there is no email for me.
Do I then say “Gee, it’s a good thing I have instant messenger to replace all of my email conversations!” ? No! I’m not saying that at all!
I use Instant Messaging to talk to people in real time. When someone wants to get a hold of me, or I of them, I IM them and start the conversation. It’s usually a short conversation. That’s what people did today, three of them in a span of five minutes pinged me and said “Do you know your email is not working? I tried adding you to a thread and the mail bounced.” You’ll notice none of them said “I tried adding you to an IM conversation”. I use email for multiple things and instantaneous communication is not the appropriate avenue:
I realize that I am but one person in a world of hundreds of millions of email and instant messaging users. You cannot use my experience alone to project it upon the rest of the population. But at the same time, I don’t think that my experience is that much different than many business users. Facebook mail has its place, but so does email. I suspect it will for a very long time until instant messaging can overcome the things that email excels at.
Certainly email co-exists with SMS, IM, Skype etc. Email will continue to have a place because of its asynchronous nature, making it a simple way to drop pictures, files and other content for later consumption.
Immediate communications are not always appropriate for certain situations, which is why I don't always telephone or SMS.
So, my take is it is not dead, but now co-exists with these others filling a defined role.