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email, everyday social networking, lobbying, media

“Email is dying – discuss.”

There’s something I want to talk about. According to Jessica Vascellaro of the Wall Street Journal, email is dead and is being trampled on by big bolshy new kids on the block like Twitter. What? “Email has had a good run as king of communications.

But its reign is over,” says Vascellaro. Que? Lean news week at WSJ was it?springs to mind.

A bigwig at a US strategy consulting firm argues email is “the largest social network.” Hmmm . . . He also writes that the worlds of email and social networks are merging which seems more probable than one actually killing the other off. You have to have an email account to be on social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter but not everyone with an email account needs to be on a social network site he says.

Apparently email grew 21% between 2008-2009 (I’m guessing because of this). Hotmail alone has 375 million registered users – that’s hardly what I’d class as anywhere near close to dodo status – and the growth of social networking is only going to add to the need for email.

One argument from someone on a mailing list I am discussing this topic said few new technologies have ‘killed’ an old one. “What new technologies usually do is do part of what one or more old technologies did much better while making old technologies focus on their strengths.” And he gave examples:

– Print Press vs Books vs Radio vs TV vs Internet vs Mobiles
– Horse and Cart (now used just on some farms) vs Canals (now used for living and pleasure trips) vs Trains (still king for short-medium distances and large loads across land) vs Trucks (smaller loads across loads with end-to-end delivery vs Boats (long distance, slow spoiling loads) vs Planes (passengers and high-value fast spoiling loads)
– Letters vs. Phone Calls . . .

You get the picture.

Lauren Miller, director of email programmes at a design and web development company highlights President Obama’s 13-million person email list was one of his most important political weapons during the campaign. The campaign sent more than 2 billion messages during the race – the source of most of the $500 million raised online.

She says (she would) that email has the ability to tell stories, build relationships, and drive action with supporters in ways that an insulated Facebook fan page and a 140 character tweet have yet to do. I’m not sure I agree.

This all throws up another question: when can I stop being on my guard that an interesting argument or discussion I see online or through a social network or mailing list I am on hasn’t stemmed from a PR stunt, isn’t astroturfing or link bait? And by contributing I am helping them reach their goal of more clicks? Actually, if it spurs an interesting discussion, I don’t care.

Hrruummmmph.

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