Monday, 30 April 2007

Email or not to email

Steven Cohen over at Library Stuff linked to an article on email use and younger web users, which had some really interesting things to say about teenagers and 20 somethings preferring IM and SMS to emailing.

I'm a 20 something that falls outside of the age bracket usually referred to in articles like this, but it is something I've noticed. Most of my friends barely use email, and would much prefer to SMS me. My younger siblings are barely off of MSN and the only time I receive an email from them is when they want to forward something on. I'm much more likely to receive a comment on a blog or a tweet on twitter than I am to get an actual email. And the email I do get these days is mostly from mailing lists, or confirmation emails.

In work terms, I do receive a lot of email, although it is mostly short and to the point, information that is necessary for me to carry out a task, or that I need to keep a record of. And I've noticed a tendency in people to ignore things that don't immediately require their attention. One example of this - I sent an email asking about a missing looseleaf in November and I didn't recieve a read reciept for it until February, and I never got a response.

There is some element of 'information overload' to this. People receive so much email on a daily basis that they can't keep up. Some people then tend to ignore it, and others, move to other services, for example moving mailing list subscriptions to an rss reader rather than email. Or as the article shows, move to more immediate communication tools like SMS, IM and more web 2.0 type sites like Facebook and Twitter.

As a way of getting around this, my work, and I've heard of a few others doing this, will occaisionally dedicate days as 'no email days', so that we have to call someone, or go and speak to them, unless the email is absolutely necessary. And amazingly, there is a difference in the response that you receive. Problems are solved much more quickly, conversations are had with people that you wouldn't normally speak to, and it's generally more pleasant overall. I hate the phone with a passion, but I still end up enjoying the 'no email days'.

1 comment:

The Chief said...

I love email, but the number of times people at work get themselves tied up in knots pinging emails back and forth when a quick phone call (or gasp, popping to see someone) can sort it all out is ridiculous.

ps Thanks for noticing my humble effort, hoping to build it up over time.