I really enjoy reading Robert Scoble. His blog, The Scoble Show over at PodTech, and of course, his Tweets (on Twitter). He usually has some good thoughts, and is usually on the money. Sometimes I really disagree with him and think he’s too close to Silicon Valley for his own good, but he is on top of everything.
So it was one of this tweets today that got me thinking on email more. I don’t disagree with him on this one, and I thought I’d expound a bit on some of the thoughts he was throwing out on.
It turned out to be an interesting thread on Twitter. Scoble started off with this tweet:
It’s amazing that in this age of Twitter that people still send email. I hate email. I hate direct Tweets. I hate Facebook messages.
Followed quickly (Twitter is great at fast follow-ups) with this Tweet:
PR people are the worst in the email regard. Speaker planners are close. I don’t answer a lot of my email anymore. If I did, I’d never do.
It’s interesting how the technorati are continually moving to an open communications model – where only their private communications are conducted through email. Private life requires a little bit of privacy after all.
But for communications where privacy doesn’t matter, and after all most communications fall into this category, why not use a fast, scaleable, mobile communications system? Who cares if everyone reads the message – most people ignore anything that is not of interest or of importance to them.
Robert answered one of his followers in this Tweet:
@dweezel: that’s the whole point. Most of my email does NOT need to be private. It’s far better to do most communication out in public.
This seems to sum up the growing perception in many people’s minds.
Chris Brogan asked this question in a Tweet:
@Scobleizer – agreed in the “get in contact” mode. What about the “more details” mode? What do you prefer for “payload?”
While Robert didn’t answer the question, I think that this question is being answered by many Twitter users themselves. Initially shortened URLs (using TinyURL or URLtea) helped link to blogs, news sites, YouTube, etc… In addition, creative users like Dave Winer come up with solutions like TwitterGram where you can upload an audio file, or call one in from your phone. This is where the payload of services like Twitter will be augmented.
Robert rounded out his perspectives in this Tweet:
Basically this is my gesture to the world: I am not answering my email and I’m not going to start. I’m overloaded. Tweet me.
The whole idea of not using email is possibly a bit extreme, but the reality is that we rely on email too much. We use it in place of face-to-face conversations, some use it in place of IM, some use it to spread viral marketing, some unwittingly help spammers and virus hacks by resending pictures and messages they find profound.
The fact of the matter is that email is abused and few messages are worth reading at all. Between the spam, poorly written lengthy messages, it’s a time-sink for many individuals and their employers.
I’d be curious how many hours any of you spend dealing with email – an old but still valid question.
I guess that I really don’t use email much myself, and through the use of instant communications services like Twitter/Pownce/Jaiku, I have gotten used to saying something in 140 characters, or being able to split it into two such posts. Being succinct is an art and an asset that many should practice.
Oh, and thanks to Robert for the post idea! 🙂
UPDATE: I guess that one of the things I wanted to point out though is that while email is abused and is a problem, it is going to be one of our “classic” communication methods. Like radio when television came out, there is still much value in it. There are many times you can absorb auditory information without a video stream and gain value from it. Also, newspapers – the morning ritual of reading the news with a cup of coffee, or on the commute to work is something that will never go away. The same for books – the more digital we get and how quickly we can send information, the more important the relaxing affect of getting lost in your favorite book is.
Email, like a good Whiskey, needs to be used in moderation.