One of the neat by-products of the migration of our culture online was the return of the written word- via the emergence of email as a primary mode of communication. The telephone largely replaced letter writing, but email allowed the written word to muscle its way back into our everyday lives.
For a while.
Now Fred Wilson (who I continue to read, enjoy and link to, even though he is not a particularly conversational blogger) says that spam, with a little help from AOL, is killing email. There’s no doubt that spam is a major pain in the ass for emailers (and fax machine owners) everywhere. I have found, however, that the newer versions of Outlook do a pretty good job of weeding out spam- as long as you regularly update your junk email filters. But something else is taking a toll on email- at least personal email.
It’s text messaging via handhelds and IM via computers.
Email will always rule over the business arena, because of the archival and attachment advantages, but as far as personal communications goes, the migration has started to move to text messaging and IM, at the hands of young people.
As Stephen Baker points out, young people are far more likely to use text messaging or IM to communicate with their friends than email.
Even the young adults I know seem to greatly prefer text messaging to emails. It’s quicker, they say. And as Stephen points out, there’s less thought required. In other words, it’s a few steps away from a letter and closer to verbal communication.
For those of us who don’t use text messaging or IM very much, it seems foreign to rely on them for your primary connection to others, in lieu of a phone call or an email.
But to our kids, an email seems sort of quaint. Like those letters in that shoebox they found in the attic.