Something struck me the other day: I’ve become almost obbsessive about communicating online, in one form or another: I buy online almost whenever I can, because I detest brick-and-mortar shops.
I bank online, manage my household energy accounts online, talk to people online. At work, I prefer communication by email, and the thought of someone phoning up “for a chat” fills me with dread, to be honest. Phone converstations, even with my better half, are short, and convey information mostly.
I suppose this is to be expected in one way: the nature of my work often lends itself to email, and email is a great medium to queue things: stuff can be dealt with at a good moment, rather than interrupting thoughts. It’s a great medium for facts too. Of course, it has it’s problems, and I’m probably painfully more aware of them than many people.
However I do find the countless ‘death of email‘ articles frustrating, but I’ll come back to that in a moment.
I find companies that don’t enable online communication very frustrating: I don’t want to talk to your representative (or anyone, for that matter): I don’t want you to try to sell me crap I don’t want, I don’t want to be called sir, and thanked every 5 minute for my call by someone in a remote call centre who doesn’t actually care. Most of all, I want to do stuff when I think of it, quickly and efficiently, be that whatever time or day of the week. If I want a chat, I’ll meet a friend in a pub, thanks.
This week has seen one organisation that are reluctant to handle email (an NHS department), but do so with a tone that suggests this is a bit too hard, and one that simply doesn’t respond (an insurance company), so now I’ll have to spend a lunchtime talking to people I don’t want to, in an open-plan office…
I realise I’m sounding like the stereotypical uncommunicative geek here, but people that know me in real life will (hopefully) confirm that I do like to talk, preferably in a pub. I do seem pretty phone-averse though: am I odd in this respect?
I’d be interested to hear any other thoughts on this, though I realise my data will be skewed here: people reading this are more likely to favour electronic communications.
Anyway: back to the death of email. This is widely predicted by a certain class of social media consultant (specifically, the ones that are full of shit: you may wish to peruse this article, as it prompted this post). Email is still the business ‘killer app’, the basic form of ID on the Internet, and the best way to get a wide range of information to a small number of recipients. For a good analogy, think of the ‘paperless office’ widely predicted not so long ago. It’s bullshit. Social media has it’s place, but it’s intrusive, disjointed, immature (technology wise), and in the control of US corporations to one degree or another.
My prediction: email will last another 30 years, at minimum, in a recognisable form: It’s existed in a recogniseable form already since around 1965. So will the written word, the printed word, and the telephone (despite the fact that landline use is declining, and teenagers seem to communicate entirely by SMS). Fax will probably die sooner, but it still has legal significance that email does not. Thoughts anyone?