While I’ve been an enthusiastic adopter of social platforms I’ve never once felt the need to ditch my old and trustworthy friend email. Sure I’ve been down on email before as I wrote here, but I’ve never called for the end as discussed on this successfulworkplace.com article. The commentors on that post highlight some valid reasons that email is not going away anytime soon but the fact that ‘everyone uses it’ is not what keeps me wired into my inbox. In fact most people I communicate with regularly have social profiles, mobile devices and various other means of communication that we all use regularly.
Even with my closest colleagues on a typical day we will communicate using some or all of the following methods; telephone, instant messaging, desktop sharing, micro-blogs, task management system, blogs, wikis and of course email.
No, the main reason I still use email is that I simply haven’t found anything else that fills that space. In fact I would argue that email isn’t social and that’s why nothing has been developed to replace it and why no social media platform signals the death knell for it. Email is private, it can be open, but that’s a conscious choice, in the same way that a private direct message on twitter is a conscious break from the intended use of the platform.
Email is not a stream that you dip in and out of as you please, it’s a point-to-point communication method. Emails don’t disappear off the bottom of the stream to be forgotten about forever, they sit and wait until they have been dealt with. Whether that is through deletion or being opened and read is a choice made by the recipient and no one else.
But for me, the most valuable aspect of email is it allows me to think. My preferred learning style is reading and writing. Often when an idea hits me it’s impossible for me to explain to someone else exactly what it is straight away. I still feel that moment of excitement that I simply must communicate to anyone who is interested. If the idea is related to the current project I’m working on then the only people that need to hear it are those associated with the project. Composing an email, for me, is the only way to really understand the thoughts that are flying around my head. To put enough words down, in my own time, that allows me to explain it to a colleague. If I can explain it in a single email, with a small number of clarifications, then I know I’m on to something.