Dec 18, 2009

The Death of Email (yay!)

With the rising popularity of Instant messenger, Twitter-style status updates in social networks and other alternate forms of online communication, it is not surprising to see the continued decline of email usage among younger Internet users.
I first came across the trend about 3 years ago or so at Ola Ahlvarsson’sSIME conference in Sweden, where he cleverly had a panel of young people interviewed about their online habits. (The panel’s premise being that Internet usage is becoming increasingly segmented in style. A venture capitalist looking to invest in an Internet start-up can no longer assess it personally in terms of “I think I’d use that”. This is especially true of a VC older than 30 years old.)
On that SIME panel one of the students explained that email was so passe that he only used emails when communicating with authority figures, such as teachers or parents. Otherwise, the proliferation of new communication channels were the place to get in touch with friends. I got a similar response from a university student who attended a Blogger meet up in Malaysia two weeks ago.
To the older crowd (25+ years old) email remains popular, but the number of new channels is still growing. Twitter, status updates, IM and - soon - Google Wave. While the proliferation of new channels may annoy and depress some (”I have to sign up for ANOTHER service??!!”), I find it an exciting place to be.
We are now learning to communicate in ways that previous generations could not. Great time to be alive!