Thinking Tech

E-mail death article fuels Facebook, Twitter backlash on Slashdot

Posting in Technology

The smart but cranky loiterers at Slashdot took a few shots at the Wall Street Journal death of e-mail article. I agree with much of commentary. Here's why.

I love the powerful voice of Slashdot and its followers are not taking this latest death of e-mail discussion lying down. Slashdot is living up to its motto: "News for Nerds. Stuff that matters."

The comments to a "Yet Another Premature Declaration of E-mail's Death" discussion thread pretty much rips a Wall Street Journal (WSJ) article declaring that e-mail is dying. Most of folks commenting sound like cranky baby boomers like me - wizened, smart and somewhat disconnected from the generations coming up behind us.

Here's two comments which capture the prevailing Slashdot sentiment:

""Why would anyone confuse Facebook or Twitter with professional tools? An email can be a very professional means of communicating (provided that you employ proper grammar an etiquette)."

"Not to mention Facebook and Twitter are totally closed systems. Both you and the recipient need a Facebook account in order to communicate via Facebook. In contrast no one that I exchange email with has the same provider as me."

Those are powerful observations largely overlooked in the WSJ piece. Indeed, Facebook and Twitter are closed systems that's somewhat mitigated by social media aggregators like FriendFeed, but they are free. There's not much of a barrrier to entry. And lke Facebook, you sign up for one e-mail system or the other i.e. Gmail.

Still, e-mails are uniquely brand blind.

The WSJ article was a bit thin on news and anaylsis. I jumped in yesterday and said e-mail's going to be around for quite a while despite all the interesting communications mediums out there.

While it might be a decade or more before e-mail bites the dust, something will come along that will do a better job. That will largely happen out of a generational shift. A decade ago, we would have never said newspapers were on the way out and look what's happening now. As a newsman, I can tell, it hurts.

But GenXers, GenYers, Millennials and whoever is before, after and to the side of them are driving the bus now and well they should. And not just the U.S. has a say in whether e-mail sticks around. The rest of the world is fully vested in e-mail and the other communication mediums as well.

As for Slashdot, it's been around almost since the beginnning of the personal computing time, 1987. I think I was using an IBM PC AT that year. I had already been using e-mail for quite a while. Remember MCI Mail? Or MCI for that matter?

E-mail is still the first thing I check in the morning. You go, old girl!

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John Dodge

Contributing Editor

Contributing Editor John Dodge has written for the Wall Street Journal, Boston Globe, PC Week (now eWeek), EDN, Design News, Electronic Business, Bio-IT World, Health-IT World, Lowell Sun, Haverhill Gazette and Newburyport Daily News. He is based in Massachusetts. Follow him on Twitter. Disclosure