My kids hardly use eMail any more. It true. I was surprised when I learned this the other day. It is not that they don’t use the computer to communicate – far from it. They use Facebook and Twitter extensively. Both Facebook and Twitter allow you communicate both publicly and privately. They can involve others in the public discussion but still use the direct communication tools when they have something they don’t want others to read.
The big advantage of both however is the ability to control who sends them messages. Both Facebook and Twitter function as a giant spam filter.
On Facebook, the default is to be able to read the “public” messages or send a private message you have to have been accepted as a “friend”. There are ways to have an open-public account but most (thankfully for safety’s sake) don’t.
On Twitter you can only send a direct message if that person if following you -i.e. they have chosen to read your feeds.
So what does this mean for the future of eMail? It would seem one implication is that eMail as we know it will become less important unless the eMail companies start building in some of these social networking capabilities. It also means that it will be increasingly important for businesses to be “opted-in”. The requirement for trust just went up a notch.
Practically speaking though I can’t imagine too many people allowing a company to be a Facebook friend unless something changes sufficiently for a company to truly act as a friend.
On the other hand, perhaps there will be new media developed that will allow people to separate out “business” from “friends” That is one of the problems of email today. Messages from both are mixed together. There is still a need for product and business information but with much more opt-in control. Perhaps a parallel Facebook (“ProductBook) that contains all the commercial communications that individuals find usedful?
How do you see it?