Yesterday fellow blogger Tina Su published 15 tips to writing an effective email. Tina is a very talented writer and I suggest you follow her blog, but that’s beside the point. The title alone got me thinking about email and how I use it to interact with other people. The realization is that I rarely use email outside of work anymore, rather it’s a last resort to contact someone and I have maybe a dozen of my closest friends email addresses, the rest I don’t. So what happened?

Email was partially created to fill a void in the time it took to deliver a message from one physical location to another location faster. It did that, and as someone who’s been using email since about 1994, I don’t know that I would ever go back to putting a piece of paper in an envelope, sticking a stamp on it and waiting. Now, the post office has a time and place for things, but for sharing information, it’s not that great, and it’s expensive if you want to share with a lot of people.

Over the last eight years or so, I’ve relied less and less on email for contact though; forums were a huge boom around the turn of the century and created something called a Private Message. An email of sorts but only on the forum that you belonged too between other people who belonged to the forum. I’ve actually been running my own photography forum since 2003 and am still active on a number of other forums covering various topics, 99.5% of the people on these forums I do not have an email address for and that’s OK because I know that they can be contacted through the forum.

The next major move was in 2002 when Friendster was started, the first really successful social networking site. Today MySpace and Facebook are the leaders, but they allow you to connect in an informal way with everyone from family to celebrities. What they also offer is the ability to see if the person you sent the message to read it or not, something that email could never effectively do.

Photo by: cambodia4kidsorg

Twitter has also made it possible to keep in contact with people quickly, and more and more people use it as a chat program, even though chat has been around for years.  It’s been called real time blogging, but in the nearly year I’ve been using it, I see more conversations going on between people than I do blogging.

Most websites have also stripped off email contacts replacing them with forms, much like you see here on Randomn3ss’s Contact page because it cuts down on spam, and embraced so called Web 2.0 ideas like social networking & bookmarking sites and Twitter. While I do reply to your messages via email, it’s not the technology you used to get in contact with me first.

Tina’s article contains concepts and ideas that can be used on forums, social networking sites, Twitter and even text messages, but on a whole, I think email is slowly slipping away much in the same manner the hand written letter has. Email isn’t going to die, but it’s been painfully living on, crippled by spam, your friend Angela who forwards everything she thinks is funny to you and endless marketing emails from companies you bought products from that are pleading with you to buy more.

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