The Death of E-Mail: Greatly Exaggerated

This Slate story, entitled The Death of E-Mail, has been getting a lot of attention in the blogosphere of late. I felt compelled to comment because the story was published so close in time to our launch of the MarkMail service for getting intelligence from e-mail archives.

If e-mail were doomed, one thinks, perhaps MarkMail was a mistake. Then again, perhaps not, for two reasons:

  • The article is largely based on a 2005 Pew study that says teenagers prefer to chat over instant messaging (IM) than over email. Heck, I prefer to chat over IM, too — but I don’t use e-mail primarily for chatting.
  • MarkMail is actually as applicable to IM as it is to email. So even if email were to fall beside IM in popularity, MarkMail could easily be recast as “MarkMessage” and aimed at IM archives instead of (or in addition to) email ones.

The Slate story talks about Facebook status updates and Twitter tweets as email replacements, but I think it’s off-base. At 100-something character limits, neither Twitter nor Facebook status updates replace email. However, Facebook messaging/mail is a valid replacement for email and while it’s primitive today it wouldn’t surprise me if the future looked like:

  • Everyone has a corporate email for work use
  • Everyone has a Facebook email for private use

And Tweets are replaced by Facebook status updates (which desperately need a better name) and your Yahoo and Gmail personal accounts get replaced by Facebook. But, from a MarkMail perspective, that future’s fine, too.

For more cogent comment on the Death of E-Mail meme, I’d direct you to Scott Karp’s post on his Publishing 2.0 blog, entitled simply E-Mail is Not Dead.

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