Monday, October 19, 2009

Death Sounds So Final

There are regular blog posts, tweets and discussions about the purported 'death of email.' Talk of 'death' is a lot more morbid and frightening than saying 'decrease' or 'dwindle' or some other much less dramatic word. Ooooh, beware the decrease of emails. Nope, doesn't do a thing. You?

In a recent post on the Enterprise 2.0 blog, Stowe Boyd wonders what dead means, exactly, when we talk about the death of email?

According to Boyd, he first talked about the death of email in 2004-2005 and was nearly 'tarred and feathered.' Still, today he sticks with his original hypothesis that email will slowly, but surely disappear. He writes:

"In time, it will fall off the edge, like fax is now that we can scan and send attachments more easily than using dedicated fax machines. We will find that email will be left with a short list of uses, like monthly mailing from the bank, or travel intineraries from Expedia. These relative impersonal communications with companies will be the final resting ground for email, and then, even that will wink out when a better metaphor for social interaction with companies becomes dominant. And I doubt that we will miss it when it’s gone, either."

Boyd refers to a recent article by Jessica Vascellaro article in The Wall Street Journal that begins, "Email has had a good run as king of communications. But its reign is over.. "

As new tools develop for the enterprise, perhaps it will become more easy for the average, non-social-media saavy user to find ways to communicate electronically that aren't email. Then it will become more accepted -- as the fax machine did. Most of these 'replacement' tools are so new, it will be a while before we see what sticks. And there are so many new tools, it can be overwhelming for people.

When our team here at SamePage is thinking about wiki enhancements, we take into consideration the needs of all types of workers - those email-reliant included. We look for ways to better connect the dots for email users to newer technologies, like a wiki. We strive to keep it simple with features that more easily integrate email and the wiki so the central repository can be built up and real conversations can happen.

Jessica inserts a bit of editorial at the tail end of her article. She writes:

"But there's another way to think about all this. You can argue that because we have more ways to send more messages, we spend more time doing it. That may make us more productive, but it may not. We get lured into wasting time, telling our bosses we are looking into something, instead of just doing it, for example. And we will no doubt waste time communicating stuff that isn't meaningful, maybe at the expense of more meaningful communication. Such as, say, talking to somebody in person."

But in-person vs. electronic communications? Well, that's just a whole 'nother bag of worms.


Tom Bailey said...

It is unlikely to die anytime soon the question is... So what? Knowing that how does that move a persons life forward now?

Devang Mehta said...

Thanks for the comment, Tom. How can this discussion move a person's life forward? Well, someone who's hesitant to try other e-mail replacement technologies may keep a little more of an open mind and willingness to examine other options. Or, you can read other viewpoints, such as this from Vertical Response (the e-mail marketing company) blog at

Will you do anything differently?