Monday, October 12, 2009

E-mail is dead, long live Twitter?

Posted By on Mon, Oct 12, 2009 at 1:54 PM

No, I don't think so. E-mail is becoming more efficient and Twitter is become more about PR campaigning.

Take the Daily Beast's news that Hollywood stars are taking classes to learn how to tweet, setting their lawyers loose on faux fan pages, and  hiring staff members to tweet and post Facebook messages for them. That's about PR. That's also not what Twitter is, or was, about.

But, there's more: Try bitching about a national brand on Twitter. The chances that you'll hear back from the company are high -- not because they want to smooth your feathers, but because they are watching the Internets like Big Brother, ready to squash any hint of bad publicity.

Don't get me wrong, I like Twitter. I use Twitter. But, the fascination and addiction have faded. I'm sick of Twitter-spam and spending time blocking all of the twits whose profiles are either porn, self-help or marketing related. (Seriously, people, I can find my own porn, self-help and PR professionals without your dumb ass tweets leading the way. And, for chrissake, you are not a social media expert, no matter what your mother says.)

E-mail, on the other hand, is becoming my communication tool of choice. No, it's not as instantaneous, but it's also not the equivalent of a bull horn -- broadcasting your news and ideas to the unknown, or barely known, masses. (Yep. Made that mistake ... more than once. Lesson learned.)

Once upon a time, when e-mail was still novel, I, too, was guilty of sending too many joke messages and a variety of other e-mail sins. But, that's changed. I can't remember the last time I sent or received an e-mail joke or flamed an ass hat on a list-serve. And, perhaps, thanks to Twitter, I rarely ever feel the need to blather on and on in an electronic message anymore. I can pick up the phone for blathering.

E-mail messages are becoming more succinct and controllable. Twitter, on the other hand, is still living in the Internet's Wild Wild West. It's fun and good for connecting with people you might not have met otherwise, but it's also no e-mail replacement and it's way too wide open for many conversations. Plus, you loose track of who is listening in. That never happens with e-mail. Well, not usually anyway.

The Wall Street Journal, however, disagrees with my old fashioned use of technology. Though, their premise that e-mail users aren't always connected obviously came from someone daring to live without a smart phone. Moreover, the idea that someone sending you a tweet will make you feel so compelled to instantaneously respond you'll drop everything else to tweet back is complete bull.

I do the same thing with tweets that I do with archaic voice mail and elderly e-mail:  I respond when I want to respond. Just because someone is overly attached to their electronics doesn't mean they hover over their devices every second of their lives waiting for someone to virtually pet them and remind them that they're known.

Sometimes, you know, people even do wacky things like go outside or read a book so they can disconnect from our always-on society.

From the WSJ:

Email has had a good run as king of communications. But its reign is over.

In its place, a new generation of services is starting to take hold—services like Twitter and Facebook and countless others vying for a piece of the new world. And just as email did more than a decade ago, this shift promises to profoundly rewrite the way we communicate—in ways we can only begin to imagine.

We all still use email, of course. But email was better suited to the way we used to use the Internet—logging off and on, checking our messages in bursts. Now, we are always connected, whether we are sitting at a desk or on a mobile phone. The always-on connection, in turn, has created a host of new ways to communicate that are much faster than email, and more fun.

Why wait for a response to an email when you get a quicker answer over instant messaging? Thanks to Facebook, some questions can be answered without asking them. You don't need to ask a friend whether she has left work, if she has updated her public "status" on the site telling the world so. Email, stuck in the era of attachments, seems boring compared to services like Google Wave, currently in test phase, which allows users to share photos by dragging and dropping them from a desktop into a Wave, and to enter comments in near real time.

Never forget that people online aren't always who they appear to be:

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