Maybe Email Isn’t Dead After All

funny picturesI was wrong. You were right. I’m ugly. You’re pretty. I’m dumb. You’re smart. I fail. You rule.

Almost a year ago, I riffed on the death of email. Apparently, email didn’t get the message, and rumors of its demise were exaggerated.

While Generation Y thinks email is for old farts, it still serves as the single most dominant digital form of communication. So much so that New Web properties like Facebook and MySpace have added inboxes that can send mail to and receive mail from external addresses.

Incidentally, each has added chat, and Facebook is building an Jabber/XMPP interface to allow its chat to be accessible outside Facebook. These features point to the overall requirement for a single communication place. We all have too much communication, and making it available in a single location is the first step toward actually replying to it all.

The main point here is that people won’t be dragged away from their inboxes without a fight. Several of the coolest apps I’ve seen lately get this and follow the tried and true aphorism “if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em”.

I’ve covered TripIt and Twitterfone before, and thanks to Rich and Matt, I’m dabbling with Sandy, Remember the Milk and Jott, each of which follows the same theory allowing me to interact using my interface of choice, email, IM, SMS, Twitter, voice, etc. rather than sending me to yet another web page.

Check out Andy Denmark’s presentation from Web 2.0 Expo.

I especially like the “Why Email Made Sense for TripIt” slide because they turned a pain point, i.e. transcribing email itineraries into calendars, into a slick app that wows everyone.

So, what do you think? Agree that email is far from dead, or think I was right from the start? What about using email as an interface to other apps? Or are you so sick of email that you can’t bear to use it anymore?

Sound off in comments.




  1. Many years ago I worked at Ingres who had the novel idea of using newsgroups for all internal technical discussions. The rationale was that an individual email cost the company $0.10.

    15 years later, I am still wading through email lists where every single email is sent to N people.

    15 years later, idiots still send me large attachments. Yes – we have shared files. Yes – we have Wikis. Yes – we have blogs. Yes – we have RSS. Yes – we have IM but people are attached to email like an IV drip.

    Email isn't dead. We are cursed with it. Forever.

  2. So, what do you think of is as an interface into other apps? Considering the fact that we can't get rid of it, do you think it's better to play along with what's known to people, or give them a new interface?

  3. I would quite happily store all my (corporate) email/chat/outputs in Google Mail.

    I think it is absolutely superb you can search gMail and pull out a snippet of a chat session.

    I think it is brilliant I can reply to this Disqus comment from gMail.

    My idea of nirvana would be a corporate lifestreaming app (a la FriendFeed) with every single employee compelled to use it (just as they are compelled to use Timesheets and Expenses).

    2008/6/4 Disqus <>:

  4. Would be nice to have it all in a single place. Just like FriendFeed, it would need controls to throttle the noise. Actually, I find FF to be way noisier than I'd like. It was easier to handle before the deluge.

  5. I like email. I'm 34 – so probably not in Generation Y. People have asked if I'll join Facebook, but I really don't get it. You sign up, and then if people get in touch, you get an email saying they got in touch on Facebook. As I'm not a fan of Facebook, then why not just send me an email, with real content in it, instead of a link to Facebook?

  6. We're the same age, so tail end of Gen X. I use email more than anything else, but my communication has become more distributed over the past 2 years or so, including social networks, Twitter, IM, SMS, etc., depending on the conversation.

    As for Facebook, their goal is to get you to stay in FB all the time. They have O/S aspirations, ergo the chat, the inbox, the apps, etc. This model works for younger people, but not so much for email diehards. They want to draw you in with the social aspect and hook you, keeping your communication inside the walled garden. That's why the bacn email never has much content.

  7. The incorporation of email into a lifestream would be good except for spam. As new communication methods become popular, spam hits them too. I've not been a twitter user for long, but I'm already starting to see an increate in twitter spam.

    Currently, I get people asking questions on my forum, email, twitter, Oracle Wiki, Oracle Mix, LinkedIn etc. If would be nice if all these things were consolidated into a single uber-stream. 🙂

    As it is, they are not, so I can either keep checking several services, or rely on email notification to tell me what to look at. For me, email is a useful notification service, more than a collaboration tool.



  8. My thought is that email should be the consolidated stream, since you use it a lot. All those services should pump notifications into your email, and why not allow email to control them too, a la mail list daemons, by just sending commands. So, if you get a note from Mix about a comment on your session idea, you should be able to reply via the email.

    Incidentally, spam on Twitter is a non-issue for me, since I can ignore or block requests. But then again, that's how I feel about email spam, and that puts me in the minority, as we've previously discussed.

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