Sunday, November 28, 2010

Email is not Dead

Email is neither obsolete nor dead.

Exchanging information over the internet has diversified that lead many to declare that email, a traditional tool, is dead. Communicating with friends and colleagues is now possible through social networking (Myspace, Facebook), instant messaging, and even microblogging (Twitter). I, however, guess that email will mutually coexist with these services if not outlast them.

The reasons below are among the bases for the death of email, but they are neither unique nor drastic:

Address inconsistency

Email addresses can be confusing. We have been given the freedom in creating an address which leads to people with something irrelevant to their identity such as 0l3ic_10.03@gmail.com. Additionally, chances are after a month or two they abandon it to establish another account. I must admit that I myself tend to change my email address a number of times. It must have been to relieve myself from unwanted mail (spam) and to finally create a permanent address. Changing address, however, will worsen the connection to contacts. Then again, there are ways to circumvent this. Just like when transferring to a new home, common courtesy states that people ought to inform friends of their new location. And honestly, I don’t see any problem with befuddling addresses. Once a friend’s name and their address(es) are added to my contact list, all I got to do is type their real name in the “To:” field and their respective addresses will be shown (at least Gmail have this feature). No need to memorize trivialities at all.

Taking care of the junk

When something becomes popular, it’s bound to attract evil. For instance, viruses are prolific in Windows because that operating system is widely used. The same thing happens to email in the case of junk mail or spam. And just like Windows with its antivirus programs, email providers supply filters to help segregate unwanted mail from the legit. And just like antivirus programs with their false positive results, filters sometimes mistake genuine mail as spam. It’s all down to users periodically maintaining their accounts, just as Windows users manually scanning their systems every now and then. “Constant vigilance,” says one fictive character I like.

The competition

Yes, IM’s are instant and social networking provides more features to, well, socialize. The problem however is that they only provide services to their members. On simpler terms, if you’re not a member you can’t get in touch with those inside. So how many accounts will that be if one friend is at Facebook, another one uses AIM Messenger, yet another one is hanging around at Twitter, etc.? On email you don’t have to join Yahoo! to contact Gmail users and vice versa. Email is universal.

Email simply cannot cease to exist just yet. In fact, it keeps on evolving, even if slowly, to adapt to the current needs of society. An email account may be dead for one, but one must ask if that account was given importance. Was the account frequently used? Was the inbox kept clean and important mail properly archived? Did the user even avoid practices that will likely reveal their address to spammers? Maintaining the account alive is just the same as one would when they keep their homepages on social networks updated and customize it to their liking. The notion that email is dead is down to personal preference and responsibility. I love sending email and this hobby will live for me for a long time.

This post is a response to John Dvorak’s 9 Reasons E-mail is Dead.

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