Email is dead – long live real-time communication

October 13, 2009

Email is dead - long live real-time communicationIt was only a few years ago that email was by far the most popular and common method of communication on the Web. We were all known by our @ address and handed it out to all and sundry, whether we wanted them to contact us or not. But things have now changed. Email is dead, or at least dying, and being replaced by real-time communication tools.

I remember a time not so very long ago when I’d receive emails every day. Family, friends, co-workers, bosses, casual contacts, and spammers would be fighting over themselves to send me multiple emails. These contained links, jokes, missives, inquiries as to my well being, and spam.

The spam has remained, although it has definitely become less of a problem thanks to tougher spam filters from all the major email clients. And I still get emails from bosses. But the rest? Well, that has pretty much all stopped, with family, friends, co-workers, and casual contacts using other methods to communicate with me.

The Wall Street Journal takes an in-depth look at the evolution of Internet communication. In essence, while email was once the fastest way to speak to someone, short of actually phoning them, now it’s considered slow in the face of competition from social networks and text messaging.

In the days of dial-up, we’d all be online in fits and starts, logging on, checking for messages, and then logging off again. But now most of us are connected to the Web, and each other, at all times one way or another. Be it on our home PC or laptop, work machine, or smartphone, we’re now all available to contact all day and night, with only sleep getting in the way of a truly 24-hour online experience.

Social networks such as Facebook and Twitter have also introduced new elements which are helping to kill email off. We have online profiles, usually on multiple sites, which provide anyone who’s interested with information about ourselves. And by regular tweets (on Twitter) or status updates (on Facebook) there’s now no need for anyone to email to ask how we’re doing. It’s there for anyone and everyone to see in real-time.

And with new efforts such as Google Wave on their way to increase real-time interaction even more, it looks as though email truly is heading the way of the dinosaur.

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One Response to “Email is dead – long live real-time communication”

  1. MetroplexInteractive:

    Email isn’t going to go away anytime soon but this article highlights the unavoidable fact that social media is quickly replacing traditional (er, electronic) forms of communication. Social networking, SMS, MMS, tweets and the like have the advantage of immediacy in an easily absorbable form which is why so many have adopted them as their preferred method of communication – after all, we live in a sound bite world don’t we? I predict that these new forms of communication will continue to become more unified such that in the future there may not be a distinction between SMS and MMS, then text and social posts.

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