In mid-July, the last telegraph will be sent. The Telegraph and its love child, the telegram, and even its bastard cousin the fax have all pretty much gone the way of the Do-Do. All of them have more-or-less been replaced by a youngster called e-mail, which has actually been around longer than many people realize.
I would say I was a relatively early adopter of email. Having gotten free access to a UNIX based account in college, I loved the ability to send a message to a friend in another city without having to find a stamp, an envelope, and their snail mail address. And getting a response the same day instead of a week later was very addictive.
The thing I really appreciated though was the fact that I didn’t have to hand write a letter. Since my handwriting and even my printing is atrocious – top Egyptologists can’t decipher some of it – I have used a computer to write letters to my friends since word processors became more prevalent. Of course, then I started working in the 7th Circle of Hell complete with fluorescent lighting, AKA Corporate America and email kinda started to lose its charm.
Anyone with a work-related inbox knows what I’m talking about. A dozen emails to set up a meeting time. Documents attached and edited and re-edited until no one knows which version is current. Urgent messages drowning in forwards and cc’s and spam. Not to mention the learning curve as people from different backgrounds and stations in life embraced and/or resisted the new communication technology.
While Groupware products like Exchange (known as the Outlook calendar among non-techy mortals) and Lotus Notes solved the problem of scheduling meetings and Document Management Software solved the problem of content collaboration, email management is still a reactive instead of proactive endeavor. And yet Yahoo, MSN, and even AOl have been working or have recently completed revamping their email systems to be more like Gmail.
These days I don’t get very many personal emails. Most of my emails are retailer mailings, newsletters, blog subscriptions* and the like. Most people use FB-mail for email which I absolutely abhor because it is so user unfriendly. What you gain in speed, you sacrifice in functionality.
Texting has replaced email for the most part. I have some friends who insist on only using text messages and I just give up when something needs to be communicated beyond the 140 character limit. Ironically these same people have smartphones that get their email too. Email isn’t going away anytime soon. It’s just being seated at the back table of the wedding reception of life, next to kindergarten friends, camp playmates and your parents (old) friends.
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