Jul 11, 2010

A central argument in the discourse of technology is that new technologies replace the old. Those of us in the performing arts know better. Neither cinema nor television signaled the death of theater, and the Internet hasn’t succeeded either in killing off the lively arts. They have, however, required us to adapt.

We’ve come so far now in so short a time: digital technologies are evolving much more rapidly than before. Now there’s opera live in HD, and dance on hulu, and tweeting in the theater, but the end of performance? I still don’t see that happening. So when I hear another pronouncement about the end of email, I automatically have similar doubts. It’s true that we’ve seen Beta Max and VHS and DVD and CD and TV all (finally) converge on our desktops, and laptops, and handhelds. It’s true that we have new attentions to compete with, but we are all still in the game.

In the earliest days of email use among ordinary citizens, it was celebrated for reviving the art of letter writing. It provided the first experience of the possibility of space-time folding, allowing us to reach across vast distances and time zones in an instant. SPAM was the beginning of the attack against the character of email. E-commerce and unsubscribed lists added to the chaos. Requirements for separate emails for work, school, and personal use—pragmatic in principle—only multiplied the affliction. How much time must we waste emptying the trash every day? In only 10 years, email has e-volved into a chaotic mess; it’s mis- and over used, but despite what Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg says, it is not going away anytime soon.
You’ll see from the links below that this death knell has been sounded annually since about 2004, around the time social media and Web 2.0 was getting hot. Am I suggesting a vast social media marketing conspiracy? No. Just pointing out that this same conversation plays out every time new poll numbers are released. It’s time to re-evaluate your strategies, not throw away any of your tools.
There’s some good advice in the source articles here, and not everything in the argument against email is wrong. It’s a question of (1) demographics, and (2) are you using the right technology in the right way.



Here’s some interesting data from Kantar Media as it relates to smartphone use, and one blogger’s reasonable conclusion as it relates to Facebook’s global expansion.
Smartphone owners now access Twitter and Facebook more consistently via their devices. Namely, 33% of them using Twitter primarily send tweets via their smartphones, and 33% of those read their timelines on their phones. Regarding Facebook, 66% of smartphone owners accessing the social site do so to read news feeds, 60% to update their statuses, 59% to process their Facebook messages and 44% to upload photos. The 59% figure for people replying and sending messages on Facebook seems to concur with COO Sheryl Sandberg's recent assertions that the end of email is nigh... The social site is well aware of the stakes of mobile access to its platform and has even extended its reach to poorer countries with its free 0.facebook platform.

Tags: email, facebook, CRM

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