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Communications United States Technology

In The US, Email Is Only For Old People 383

Posted by Zonk
from the late-twenties-and-older-than-dirt dept.
lxw56 writes "Two years after Slashdot discussed the theory that Korean young people were rejecting email, an article at the Slate site written by Chad Lorenz comes to the same conclusion about the United States. 'Those of us older than 25 can't imagine a life without e-mail. For the Facebook generation, it's hard to imagine a life of only e-mail, much less a life before it. I can still remember the proud moment in 1996 when I sent my first e-mail from the college computer lab. It felt like sending a postcard from the future. I was getting a glimpse of how the Internet would change everything--nothing could be faster and easier than e-mail.'"
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In The US, Email Is Only For Old People

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  • Just the beginning (Score:5, Insightful)

    by BWJones (18351) * on Saturday November 17, 2007 @11:32PM (#21394753) Homepage Journal
    Back in 1982 my folks walked into my room to watch a conversation with a friend of mine overseas as we typed into our Apple ][s back and forth on term. The glowing green letters popped up on a 200 baud connection or something like that a few characters at a time and you could absolutely talk faster which led my Dad to scoff and say "why don't you just pick up the phone?". I told him that is was not just words, but programs that we were sending back and forth and he just did not understand the implications to which his reply was "what does a 12 year old know?".

    The funny thing was that at the time that *was* instant messaging, so while email has been around for quite a few years, we now have beautifully designed mobile phones [apple.com], IM clients of many flavors, tweets [twitter.com] and all manner of both temporally immediate and time shifted communiques. It's been an amazing road to watch, but more impressive is that we are still only on the cusp of a much larger communication revolution that's been building for the last 20 years. When distributed networks become truly transparent and ubiquitous, we are going to see a future where todays Internet will look absolutely archaic.

    • by plover (150551) * on Saturday November 17, 2007 @11:48PM (#21394849) Homepage Journal
      We were also using both instant messaging and email in the late 1970s. This was on teletypes connected to a mainframe. It was great as a social device, but it really took all our concentration. Due to the nature of the hardware and connection, we never had multiple processes working simultaneously, at least from the user's perspective.

      Modern IM using asynchronous interruption (cell phones or separate clients) makes the current experience "different." I can choose to ignore my IM client much easier than I could when it was my only running application, synchronous in nature. The old client was much more like a conversation, one which you could end by disconnecting. Current clients are much more intrusive, and people expect more responsiveness out of you at all hours of the day.

      • by SetupWeasel (54062) on Sunday November 18, 2007 @01:47AM (#21395415) Homepage
        IM programs and cell phones can be disconnected too, and I am beginning to use that feature more often. The problem I see is that others expect these things to be on all the time. Not much of a problem for a friend, but when your boss gets angry it becomes more troublesome. That was the reason I didn't get a cell phone until 2005.
        • by Eivind (15695) <eivindorama@gmail.com> on Sunday November 18, 2007 @06:21AM (#21396381) Homepage
          I think it's perfectly OK for the boss to call me on my cellphone. IF it really is very important. My boss agreed. So, we agreed upon it this way:

          He has my number. He can call me whenever he wants. When he does, he pays for a minimum of 3 hours, at overtime rates, even if it's something as simple as for me to answer a question. The rationale ? If it isn't worth 3 hours of overtime pay to him, then it obviously isn't -important-, in that case he should just wait until I arrive at work and discuss it with me then.

          Works fine. I guess your mileage will depend on your boss. Some bosses will surely be the opinion that just because they get to disturb you, shouldn't mean they need to actually -compensate- you for it. (and no: 15 minutes of extra pay is -NOT- adequate compensation for having -private- time invaded by work, even if the intrusion lasts only 15 minutes)
        • by mdwh2 (535323) on Sunday November 18, 2007 @08:42AM (#21396925) Journal
          A lot of the problem I feel is that there's an expectation with IM that if you're online, you're ready and up for making conversation. I see it should be just like a phone - if people want to call me for some reason, they can, but otherwise I've got things to do. I don't get people calling me up just to make random smalltalk everytime I turn on my phone, I don't see why IM should be different.

          I guess the main problem is that it advertises that you're online. (And whilst you can be invisible, people then, unlike a phone, will assume you're offline, so that's no good either.)
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by DarkOx (621550)
            I think its a legacy, when IM became popularized with most people it was early-to-mid nineties. The internet was new and the public regarded it more or less they way the regaurd TV. It was viewed as primarily recreational. Hey this is cool you can talk to people about things your interested it and look at photos *neat*.

            More importantly very few people were online all the time, most were using dialup which meant their other primary method of being contacted was blocked. If they did have an internet conne
    • by untaken_name (660789) on Saturday November 17, 2007 @11:52PM (#21394871) Homepage
      When distributed networks become truly transparent and ubiquitous, we are going to see a future where todays Internet will look absolutely archaic.

      Not to rain on your parade, but doesn't the future tend to make most things look archaic? Isn't that kind of...the definition [reference.com] of archaic?
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by basic0 (182925)
      This is a little off-topic because it's more to do with hardware, but the OP's comment reminded me of a moment this week where it struck me how technology has progressed. A co-worker and I were trying to think up a use for an old G3 iMac we have, maybe turn it into an all-in-one Wii console, or a DVD jukebox with all 7 seasons of Star Trek TNG (yeah we're huge nerds). I thought to myself "Wow, not quite 10 years ago, this piece of junk that we're thinking of making a glorified toy out of, was one hell of a
      • The other side... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Belial6 (794905) on Sunday November 18, 2007 @12:56AM (#21395205)
        I have recently been finding myself thinking almost the opposite. When I saw that for $150 I could buy a new motherboard and memory that would well over double the speed of my computer, double my memory, and bring my 3 generation old video card that runs everything I play just fine up to being just one generation behind the curve, all while cutting my electrical usage in half, I started looking at the machines around my house. I was amazed at how fast the new system was, but what amazed me more was that the Alienware PC I bought in 2000 (handed down to my son a few years ago) still runs everything I use adequately. Obviously if I am re-encoding a DVD, I would rather do it in literally 10th the time, and this machine is not a full decade old, but it is fully usable with current versions of software. I suspect that this has as much to do with the fact that new machines are not really fast enough to do anything truly revolutionary over the what we had in 2000, but it still amazes me that a 7 year old machine can be considered anything but a retro system.

        This is why I have started to look more at power consumption than speed lately. I would plunk down money faster for an AthlonX2 2600+ that was fanless and used 20 watts than I would for an AthlonX2 5600+ that requires a fan and uses 50 watts.
      • by drsmithy (35869) <drsmithy.gmail@com> on Sunday November 18, 2007 @12:57AM (#21395211)

        The G3 iMac was derided for not having a floppy drive. Sounds pretty ridiculous now, doesn't it?

        The G3 iMac was derided for not having a _replacement_ for a floppy drive. Had apple shipped them with CD writers (not even CDRWs), there would have been no complaints. But at the time, it made getting information off an iMac difficult without buying more hardware - not an insignificant issue for a computer with a significant customer based expected to be in the education market (either schools or students).

        • by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Sunday November 18, 2007 @11:04AM (#21397583)
          Is not a good thing. The problem with the Mac eliminating a floppy wasn't that they did it, but at you noted that they did it when they did. There wasn't a replacement. Even had it shipped with a CDRW, it still probably wouldn't have been a realistic replacement just since so many people still used floppies.

          Phasing out old technology isn't bad, nor is embracing new technology. However it shouldn't be done just for the sake of doing it. If you get rid of something before it is really obsolete, you just piss people off and force them to buy replacements. Like I'd love to say that we are done with floppies entirely, but we aren't. I don't have one in my desktop at home, but I do at work. I simply end up needing to use it. Gateway fortunately makes them optional. They aren't normally included, but for a small fee you can get one added if you need it. While there's no reason any more to make it a default, there's also no reason to say "Nope, you can't have that." Back when the Mac eliminated floppies it was really silly since they were still used all over. I remember at the paper I worked at we had to buy USB floppies for all new Macs since the preferred method for reporters to bring in stories was on floppy. They didn't have CD writers then, they were too expensive and too new.

          Likewise just jumping on new technology for its own sake is stupid. I remember when Apple upgraded to gigabit on their computers. At the time, it was an incredibly expensive proposition. Gigabit chips were in the $200-300 range bought in bulk, so it was adding a non-trivial cost to the computer. Also, it was totally worthless to most people, as a 5 port gigabit switch was north of $1000 so almost nobody has gigabit. Being "Ahead of their time," did nothing but add cost for a feature few could use. Now all computers ship with gigabit because the cost difference between a gigabit and 100mbit chip is trivial, cents at most.

          There's nothing wrong with ragging on a company when they jump the gun on technology. Yes, in the future everyone may do it, but that doesn't mean it was a good decision then. I'm sure at some point in the future, computers won't have any more analogue video output, it'll be pure digital. That'll be great, when all monitors are likewise digital. However today that'd be pretty stupid since there's a large number of analogue monitors out there and it isn't expensive to add the RAMDACs needed to do the output. You'd be "ahead of your time," to eliminate analogue output, but it would rightfully earn you scorn.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by h4rm0ny (722443)

        Predictions about the future are often wildly off. And predictions that progress in the future is going to make everything we have today look like a child's toy, might not be an exception. I'm typing this on a single core Semperon 2.2GHz machine with DDR (not DDR2) RAM and on-board graphics. That's very far from archaic, but it was low end when I bought it and that was several years ago. It manages pretty much all that I need at present. I am intending to upgrade it soon, but that's only because I have som
    • Obligatory (Score:3, Funny)

      by MoxFulder (159829)
      In 21st century America, grandma emails YOU!!!!
    • by fermion (181285) on Sunday November 18, 2007 @02:31AM (#21395599) Homepage Journal
      There really is no real difference between these types of communications, only opportunity costs. Bandwidth with now cheap so there is no longer any reason to not have useless drivel eat up a few parts of a percent of the transmissions. The same for computer.

      Look at the telephone. Telephone time is now so cheap that people spend the entire day with a receiver on their ear chatting. It is any worse that the one telephone in the house? Not really, only in opportunity costs that one could be doing something else, perhaps more valuable.

      If one has to pay for communication, then one thinks about what one has to say. if one is not paying, then just talks. So what is happening is simply that the kids are not having to do what many very older people were trained to do, which is not to tie up a line for too long. It is now a non issue. Everyone in the house has at least one phone. Everyone in the house has a computer. The resources are not scarce, so there is no need to ration them. As long as resources remain plentiful, there is no problem.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday November 17, 2007 @11:33PM (#21394769)
    who the hell did they interview? college students couldn't live without email.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by calebt3 (1098475)
      It says that the Facebook generation can't imagine a life of only email. It doesn't claim that email is entirely obsolete, just that it does not fulfill all of their communication needs.
      • by Firehed (942385) on Sunday November 18, 2007 @01:24AM (#21395319) Homepage
        The Facebook generation? I'm twenty, and this must be the fifth generation label I've received in the last year or two (thank god that "myspace generation" didn't stick). More importantly, I think that notion is bullshit. I've been using computers since I was about three - today that doesn't mean much, but computers didn't have hard drives back when I started. Anyways, I've tried pretty much every form of computer-based communication in existence, and I always end up using email almost exclusively. It's portable, absolutely everyone has it (no worries of MSN vs AIM), and is completely free (unlike SMS/MMS, etc). Yes, the internal messaging on sites like Facebook is probably about as widespread among my friends that I've added, but that's only a relatively small subset of my contents - and in any case, we'll all be on some other site next year and Zuckerberg will be sobbing in a corner for not having taken the insanely huge offers when they were on the table.

        Maybe it's because my computer history is very different than most people my age, or maybe because it's just logical that something as easy to use and as widespread as email isn't going to go away anytime soon, while other services have either come and gone or never caught on in the first place. Pretty much every internet-connected device can handle email plus one other protocol, but it's email rather than that one other protocol that's on EVERYTHING. Like so many other things, it's not really perfect for any one application (though if it had been encrypted from the start, I'd say otherwise; unfortunately, it's really too late to get encryption everywhere), but by and large it works well enough for just about anything.
        • by calebt3 (1098475)
          I, too feel that the notion of email playing a minor role in communication is BS. And I also resent the "SomeSocialNetworkingSite Generation" labels.
        • Nobody said email is going anywhere anytime soon. That's just a strawman argument.

          And as a 23 year old, everybody who is really my friend is on my MSN (I've never, ever heard of somebody I know having AIM...maybe that's an American thing). I rarely use facebook internal messaging but I always considered it a bit more like email anyway, with simplified forward lists.

          The key differences as I see them are this:

          Facebook and other social networking sites have whitelisted contacts (you have to accept them as fr
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by bigstrat2003 (1058574)

            I've never, ever heard of somebody I know having AIM...maybe that's an American thing
            It tends to go one way or the other in a group of friends. All my friends, for example, have AIM, all of my brother's have MSN. I've never really seen one or the other as being more prevalent, but I don't have a big enough sample to determine very well.
        • Yes, the internal messaging on sites like Facebook is probably about as widespread among my friends that I've added

          I have yet to understand why anyone ever wants to use the internal messaging on websites rather than email. Having to waste my time logging into a large number of websites in order to read and reply to messages instead of them all landing in my inbox is crazyness...

          Not only that, but when using email I get to use one well designed user interface of my choice, whereas messaging on websites, forums, etc require me to use a different (usually badly designed and slow) UI on every site.
      • by symbolic (11752)
        It hasn't been that way for years. Even BBSs had little chat thingies (those that supported more than one line). If not that, the BBS message forums were a place to carry on, as was usenet, and other places like Compuserve's CB Simulator. When they finally get a real job (I'm thinking white collar), they'll find that email is MUCH more pervasive than the other stuff.
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by djupedal (584558)
          "When they finally get a real job they'll find that email is MUCH more pervasive than the other stuff."

          Eh? Is there no one under 30 in your office?

          The country where I live/work has the highest concentration of English speakers in the world. This should make it some kind of reliable reference on the topic of modern communication. The office staffers all use email sure, but the youngsters read it when they feel like it, and compose/send when they need to - however, IM, by far, is what they really use to
          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by Mr. Slippery (47854)

            Multiple-mind dumps that dart and flash like hungry steelhead in clear, fast moving coldddddduh water.

            Please. Incessant IMing and SMSing by younger folks is just the contemporary equivalent of teens trying up the phone line with content-free communication. As Leary and Wilson put it [wordpress.com], "Most human communication is embarrassingly primitive, consisting of endless variations on `I'm still here. Are you still there?' (hive solidarity) and `Nothing has really changed' (hive business as usual)." The young need

    • by Bombula (670389)
      college students couldn't live without email.

      That may be true, but as a grad student returning to college after 10 years, I can definitely say that email isn't what it once was, even to college students.

      When email first went mainstream in the mid 1990s, it was a bit like when phones first went mainstream: getting an email (or call) was a big event, and everyone was attentive and responsive, utilizing the new technology with a glorious combination of wonder and gusto. Now, the same thing that happened to t

  • Spam ruined email (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Tablizer (95088) on Saturday November 17, 2007 @11:35PM (#21394779) Homepage Journal
    Email has been ruined by spam. Either you don't give out your address, meaning that you cannot make wide use of it, or you get too much spam.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Or, you use Gmail.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by PyroMosh (287149)
        I only have two things in my gmail inbox. Spam and messages from my web host (since my main email resides on their servers, if there's an outage, or something, it makes sense for them to have an alternate service address).

        I never understood people who say they don't get spam on gmail. Since I don't use it except as a backup, I've never given my address to anyone save for my web host and yet, here is all this spam.
        • You do get some spam, but you get proportionally less. Compared to accounts on AOL or ISP-based mail, Gmail's filters are amazing. Without proper training, it probably won't beat a "roll your own" type of anti-spam on a mail server, but its better than most ISPs and better than a lot of EDU or business email spam filters.
        • by p3d0 (42270)

          I never understood people who say they don't get spam on gmail.
          I never get spam on GMail. The whole time I've had it (2.5 years), it has put about four spams in my inbox, and thousands in my spam folder.

          Do you mean, you don't understand why you get spam and nobody else does?

        • by drsmithy (35869)

          I never understood people who say they don't get spam on gmail. Since I don't use it except as a backup, I've never given my address to anyone save for my web host and yet, here is all this spam.

          In the gmail account I use for "signing up to things" - for everything from online forums to torrent sites - I see maybe two spam mails into the inbox a month, if that.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Blakey Rat (99501)
          I never understood people who say they don't get spam on gmail.

          They must be lying! Those bastards! It's inconcievable that they're telling the truth and that you're the minority.

          Since I don't use it except as a backup, I've never given my address to anyone save for my web host and yet, here is all this spam.

          Probably because you don't have any actual emails in there, Google has no way of determining which are spam or not. If you used the email account, I'm sure it would do a much better job.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by garcia (6573)
      Email has been ruined by spam. Either you don't give out your address, meaning that you cannot make wide use of it, or you get too much spam.

      You know, I have an e-mail address (billandkimroehl@gmail.com) listed on my website that gets about 12,000 visits a day and I wouldn't doubt if many of those harvest it for spam. While I get almost 0 spam (with blacklisting and SpamAssassin) on my main address (which I hadn't received a single spam to before a year ago) GMail handles the 19 or so spams I get to my web
      • by dal20402 (895630) *

        For most of what I do I expect an immediate response

        This is why I feel ambivalent at best about supplanting email with IM/SMS/whatever else.

        I don't think it's reasonable to expect everyone around me to respond immediately, and I don't appreciate it when other people expect that of me for no good reason. Email, as it has developed, is nice to use because the expected response time (usually within a few hours, unless there's clearly a reason it needs to be sooner) strikes a good balance between being able to get stuff done and allowing recipients a little

        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by hitmark (640295)
          thats why we see more and more im systems develop a system of offline messages.

          as in, you can leave a message for someone thats not connected to the system right now, and it will be delivered when they do.

          only thing missing really is a way to save and sort individual messages like one can mail, and upload files in a similar way to how one can do attachments to a mail.

          still, it could be thats where microsoft is heading with the live messenger system.
          • by dsandler (224364) <dsandler@nOsPaM.dsandler.org> on Sunday November 18, 2007 @02:10AM (#21395511) Homepage

            thats why we see more and more im systems develop a system of offline messages. [...] only thing missing really is a way to save and sort individual messages like one can mail, and upload files in a similar way to how one can do attachments to a mail.

            Um.

            At this point, haven't you essentially reinvented the email wheel?

            I don't see how this hypothetical system is substantially different from email. Well, to be fair, "email plus presence" (see: tightly integrated email/IM systems like Gmail/Gtalk or Mail.app/iChat).

            Note also that whatever it is about email that "the kids" don't like anymore, they'll also grow to dislike about "IM plus offline messages plus mailboxes plus attachments".

      • That setup solves the problem of you having to wade through tons if spam manually, but it creates the problem of legitimate mails inevitably being lost in spam filters. You don't see those, but they still exist. In my experience, quite a lot of them, especially in your case where you get mail from strangers visiting your site.

        Since you can't get anywhere near reliable message delivery with email these days, I find the whole system ready for the trash.
    • by hacker (14635)

      Either you don't give out your address, meaning that you cannot make wide use of it, or you get too much spam.

      Or you install dspam [nuclearelephant.com], and never have to worry about it again. I haven't seen a single spam in my Inbox IN OVER 3 YEARS now, nor have any of the users I host mail for.

      Thousands of spam messages are blocked or quarantined every day, and I never see them, unless I decide to check the quarantine (which is web-based). I put graymilter [acme.com] in front of that, and the incoming malware connections on port

    • by Brandybuck (704397) on Sunday November 18, 2007 @01:31AM (#21395343) Homepage Journal
      Wait until you have to abandon IM because of spam...
  • social networks... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday November 17, 2007 @11:35PM (#21394783)
    Is it me, or are people who only use Social Networks for messaging people are merely using a more limited form of "email" (loosely speaking-- as a internally controlled messaging system).
    • Not more limited. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by pavon (30274) on Sunday November 18, 2007 @12:33AM (#21395109)
      One thing that I realized recently while talking to some younger kids, is that most of them have never used a real email client, just webmail. So while we geeks think of email as a standardized flexible protocol that can be used for all sorts of things given the right software, they just think of it as a website where you can leave messages for people.

      Facebook is the same thing but with several simple but important improvements. The friends list acts as a mailing list of sorts, something that very few of the kids I have talked to know how to do with webmail. It also acts as a grey-list spam filter, limiting unsolicited messages to your request box where they are more easily ignored. There are features that act as the analog to outlooks meeting request, which is quite useful but you don't ever see used outside of work, I guess because of the implied formality of it.

      I guess what it comes down to is that features are useless unless they are accessable, so your level of expertice will dictate whether email or social networks are the more limited of the two.
      • by HiVizDiver (640486) on Sunday November 18, 2007 @02:20AM (#21395555)
        I agree 100% with the parent. There is a *huge* difference between using an e-mail client (I personally like Windows Live Mail - I know, I know - I do wish they'd get the calendar in there, though) and using web-based e-mail. My girlfriend uses web-based e-mail ONLY - I don't know how she does it, but if I had to use that as my sole source of sorting and storing my e-mail, I'd go crazy. But using almost ANY e-mail client - Thunderbird, WLM, Outlook, hell, even Outlook Express improves the whole experience by an order of magnitude for which I don't think today's younger generation has any concept.

        On a related note, I text message like there's no tomorrow, but mostly with my girlfriend. I can't imagine using that as a substitute for e-mail. Especially in a work environment.
    • by keithjr (1091829)
      They're not only using a "limited" form of email, but one with absolutely NO guarantee of privacy or security. They're channeling their communication through intermediary companies that glean and store information for advertising and feature-enhancements. These folks are in for a wake-up call when they start sending messages that actually have some importance or weight to them and don't feel comfortable with Mr. Facebook reading it.
    • by cshotton (46965) on Sunday November 18, 2007 @08:44AM (#21396931) Homepage
      I think this comparison is fallacious. The difference between some younger than 25 using a more instant form of communication and those older than 25 using something more "archaic" like e-mail likely has more to do with the nature of their communications required by their current role in society and the workplace than anything to do with the fact that one mode is better than the other. When the kiddies grow up and understand that having a persistent, searchable, ubiquitous, reliable repository of communications with their peers, co-workers, and family is actually valuable, I think we'll see them shift their communications tool of preference. There is so much you cannot do with an IM style message in a corporate environment -- send attachments, search the past 5 years of messages, access the same message base from dozens of different device types and locations, etc. -- that e-mail will never be outpaced as a business communication tool by the current crop of IM tools and social networks.

      And as a social tool, IMs match the attention span of the users. Sure, it's fun to play with Twitter and I have daily dialogs via SMS. But I am not going to write a note to a family member about a significant issue using AIM, nor am I going to discuss terms of a legal deal, send a 500 source file archive, or use SMS to read a 50 thread mailing list.

      I think a more interesting study would be to follow a sub-25 year old Internet user for 10 years and see how their communications tool usage changes. That has some intrinsic value. This "study" has none. It's like saying lots of little kids play with Legos while only a handful of adults do, so therefore Legos are the wave of the future.
  • by JanneM (7445) on Saturday November 17, 2007 @11:37PM (#21394795) Homepage
    IM is fine. IM is great. But IM only works when both are connected and both have time to reply. I prefer IM for short pings to people, quick exchanges or realtime issues. But email is much better for longer, more considered discussions, especially when the issues may take hours or days to figure out.

    I would not use email to check if someone wants to catch lunch. And I would not use any kind of IM to discuss issues with the latest revision of a journal paper. As a guess, when you're 16 you have a lot of the former kinds of communication and very little of the latter. As you grow older the balance shifts. Both have their place.

    • Mod parent up. (Score:4, Insightful)

      by khasim (1285) <brandioch.conner@gmail.com> on Saturday November 17, 2007 @11:43PM (#21394823)
      So the kids us IM now. That means that email is DEAD!

      Yeah, whatever. Look at what the kids are sending. Short, light messages. Anything more and they talk in person or talk on the phone. OMG! Just like the adults do!

      And the funniest thing is that this article is from a guy who just discovered email in 1996.

      IM is great for "lunch?" or "meet 4 pizza".

      It's not very useful when you have to discuss Johnny's grades and why he is not turning in any assignments.
    • by porpnorber (851345) on Sunday November 18, 2007 @01:53AM (#21395431)

      In the old days, email actually worked. It was delivered to your box, and comsat was there to biff you when it arrived. I even had my beloved xface running at the edge of my screen so I could see the incoming and catch the ones from the five people I cared about. And in that environment, we surely did use email to arrange lunch; it was quicker than shouting down the hall.

      Then Microsoft figured out that the Internet wasn't going to go away. And suddenly it was all DHCP and POP and all the applications that used to blow started to suck—sorry, those that used to push started to pull—and the Internet stopped feeling like the Internet and turned into what we have today, a kind of UUCP on steroids, where communication doesn't happen until the next scheduled contact time, because an IP number no longer successfully identifies a node and everyone lives in fear, cowering behind firewalls and running no daemons.

      And by now email is little better than snail mail, and the interfaces are worse (no xface or deliver scripts in Windows!) and it sucks, and of course people are looking for alternatives so that they can arrange lunch and communicate selectively with the people they care about.

      So, I know I'm an old fart by now, but in the old days, before Microsoft Rule and the Eternal September, the technology used to work. I'm not making this up....

  • by Ralph Spoilsport (673134) on Saturday November 17, 2007 @11:38PM (#21394799) Journal
    Wait until they have to get a job....

    IMing "OMG - did u c Larry - teh gay!" will only get you fired.

    IM is useful in some contexts with some teams, but by and large, it's counterproductive.

    And FACEBOOK at work? BWAHAHAHAAAA!!!

    YOU ARE SO FIRED!!!!

    You're in a meeting and some clown texts you with "OMG - did u c Larry - teh gay!" and you answer? YOU'RE FIRED.

    Email is crucial in a business environment as it is not synchronistic - you don't have to engage, and there is no immediacy. That is important.

    Jobs make all the difference - sitting around doing bong hits in your dorm is OK for facebook. But getting paid to do something is something else altogether.

    RS

    • by russ1337 (938915)
      Well, where I work we still have to send 'letters' for all formal stuff.

      We are 'up with the play' though, as we're allowed to print out the letter, sign it, then scan it as a PDF and e-mail the scan.

      I've never tried printing and scanning "OMG - did u c Larry -teh gay!", but will try it on Monday and see how it pans out.
      • by 1u3hr (530656)
        We are 'up with the play' though, as we're allowed to print out the letter, sign it, then scan it as a PDF and e-mail the scan.

        If you're actually serious, why don't you just have an image of your signature you can paste into the document and then print directly to PDF? For that matter, 99% of PDF (or worse, DOC) attachments I get could just as easily, and a lot more conveniently for me, just be plain text emails, incidentally taking up just 1 kb in my mailbox instead of 1 MB.

    • by ylikone (589264) on Sunday November 18, 2007 @12:01AM (#21394921) Homepage
      I was doing web development work from home (for the past 6 years actually) and I recently returned to full-time work in a small company and found that all these young people actually use IM ... all the time... even though they may be sitting in a cubicle next to the other person. Email is used to communicate with the clients but inner office is completely IM. I find it strange but I am getting used to it. Times seem to have changed.
      • by houghi (78078) on Sunday November 18, 2007 @06:09AM (#21396335)
        I used to work at a company some ten years ago and we used Yahoo Messenger all the time. We had email and phones and we could easily walk to each other, yet Yahoo Messenger was much easier a LOT of the time. If you needed a short answer on a short question, you would just send the message and have a further conversation if needed.

        This all while on the phone with somebody else. It realy held down the noiselevel, because instead of people shouting questions to each other, you just send the message. In about 95% of the cases you could see the person. Sometimes you would see that the person was on the phone himselef and would thus be doing two things at a time.

        Unfortunatly no other company I have worked for since has been willing or daring to implement it or even try it out. A big loss for them, especialy as you can now just set up your own server, so no contact is possible with the ousde world.

        I highly recomend it. It is NOT a replacement for email. In fact it is not a replacement for anything. It is just an aditional tool to communicate with your fellow workers.
    • by Repossessed (1117929) on Sunday November 18, 2007 @12:08AM (#21394973)
      It's the best way for people on the other side of the office to talk to each other. We also have dedicated chat clients for use with talking to specific people (namely those with some authority) for more official work. And the conversations tend to be a fair sight more professional than in person stuff, thanks to the records that such tools create,

      You're projecting too much the attitude people bring to the tools, which have nothing to do with the tools themselves.
      • by paganizer (566360)
        I have to admit it sort of puzzles me.
        Most places I've worked were Exchange environments; when you logged in in the morning you turned on outlook or Mozilla app suite or pine or whatever, and when someone sends you a e-mail you get an Immediate Notification that you have a message.
        Sure, if you are working with a dodgey mail server or are severely bandwidth crippled IM might make more sense, but how often is that the case?
        strange.
    • by Kingrames (858416)
      Not if you work for facebook. :P
    • by dal20402 (895630) *

      Wait until they have to get a job....
      IMing "OMG - did u c Larry - teh gay!" will only get you fired.

      Have you ever actually IMed at work? It can be very, very useful. More convenient than interrupting the workflow to use the phone, and many of us can type far faster than we can speak. You *can* use the protocol to say things professionally.

      billl: are you turning in your tps report today?
      peter: yes. give me 30 mins
      billl: good. that's terrific, ok?
      billl: oh, make sure to put a cover page
      peter: ok

    • Holey crap! This is the old geek version of "Get off my lawn!"

    • by kklein (900361)

      Indeed. For the last few years I've done most of my online socializing with friends on private forums several people have set up. It's great because then your conversations are semi-public, in that your friends can see them and join in if they want, and you don't have to take part in every discussion.

      The only email socializing I do is with my parents and with one friend who doesn't know the people with the forums. All of these people, however, live on the opposite side of the world from me, so IM isn't

  • by wayne (1579) <wayne@schlitt.net> on Saturday November 17, 2007 @11:41PM (#21394813) Homepage Journal
    In the 1970's, I used a the CDC PLATO system, which looked more like the modern internet than the internet in the 1970's looked like the modern internet. It had instant messaging (term-talk), email (pnotes), forums (notes, later to evolve into lotus notes), and chatrooms (0chat). No one talked about one replacing the other because they were all good for different things.

    In the early 1980's, I used IBM's CMS system. It had instant messaging (#cp msg) and email, but sadly, no forums nor chat rooms. People talked about needing the later two.

    In the mid 1980s to the early 1990's, I used unix. It had IM, email, forums and chat rooms.

    Since the early 1990s', I've used unix on the internet. It has IM, email, forums and chat rooms.

    Now, in the 2000's, people claim that IM will kill email? Huh? I don't see it. Did these people never have IM before?

    • Did these people never have IM before?

      Define "these people". If you mean everyone who didn't use CDC PLATO, IBM CMS or Unix in the 1980s, then it's a fairly huge number. "These people" never used IM (at least, not to the extent that they could consider it a primary means of communication).

      What us computer geeks fail to realize is that technology doesn't become mainstream when we start using it -- it becomes mainstream when it reaches critical mass. Today, teenagers are growing up with social networks and

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Kjella (173770)
      Well what they call "IM" isn't really IM anymore, the way you divide it. With offline messages you pretty much have email, except you can't send attachments if the recipient isn't online though there's no reason that couldn't be implemented too. Group chats replace all the ad hoc chatrooms, though there's still room for forums. All in one place with whitelisting, blacklisting, status notifications, smileys, integrations with webcams and so on and so forth. People still send "email", they just don't use emai
    • In the 1970's, I used a the CDC PLATO system, which looked more like the modern internet than the internet in the 1970's looked like the modern internet.

      They would look even closer if the modern internet had PLATO's cool orange plasma displays. (IIRC, the graphics memory bits were implemented using the hysteresis of the neon grid discharges themselves.)

      It's kind of odd how before there were things like Flash ads to gum up the works, hundreds of people could simultaneously share a single ~10 mips machine with a few kilobytes of iron core memory and get a halfway decent web-like experience.

  • And then there are those of us in the real world that realize that IM, social sites, and e-mail can (and do) all work together in our everyday lives.
    • The stream of "APPLE IS DOOOOMED!!1" stories showed us that proclaiming the death of something makes for easy writing and easy page views. Reality is more mundane; people will continue using a mix of all three, as you said, for years to come.

      Did you know that the hardcover book faces imminent doom [guardian.co.uk] as well? :P
  • by Opportunist (166417) on Saturday November 17, 2007 @11:42PM (#21394819)
    At least as much as overnight delivery did.

    Overnight had a huge impact on the industry. Until overnight was an issue, we were used to having a few days of waiting time between ordering and receiving. With overnight, JIT manufacturing turned from something that required often a lot of logistics and planning to a fairly trivial task.

    The advent of email had the same impact for offices. It suddenly became trivial to send documents instantly. Not only as a printed copy with fax machines, which were impossible to edit and to process further sensibly, but now you had a working and workable copy at your hands. Instantly.

    So it's quite logic that the 30+ generation, i.e. office people, often in elevated positions, view email as a vital part of their life. It became trivial to send a copy to your boss, send a copy home or work from home and send the result to your office.

    Yes, that's not what mail is for. I personally get ruffled the wrong way when I see people generate insane overhead by latching binaries to mails instead of using sensible ways of transfer (like uploading to some server and sending the FTP link via mail), but that's how mail is being used.

    So I guess the reason why mail is so popular with "the old" (read: people aged 30+) is less that it's a communication tool for sending messages. It's being used as a tool to transfer data of various kinds. From wordprocessor documents to spreadsheets to binaries. I think people value the fact that they can link attachments to their mails higher than the fact that they can exchange simple text.
    • by garcia (6573) on Sunday November 18, 2007 @12:08AM (#21394965) Homepage
      Yes, that's not what mail is for. I personally get ruffled the wrong way when I see people generate insane overhead by latching binaries to mails instead of using sensible ways of transfer (like uploading to some server and sending the FTP link via mail), but that's how mail is being used.

      I realize you're probably a nerd due to the fact that you're post on Slashdot but the vast majority of people who use e-mail in the corporate world cannot put anything on a FTP server, webserver, or anywhere else. That type of shit is for the IT department and I hope that they honestly have better things to do than place some lame Excel spreadsheet used like a database up so that three people can access the data contained in it once.

      I have access to a webserver, FTP server, whatever and you know what? I still send attachments because it makes more sense for 99% of what I (and everyone else) attaches.
    • by thpr (786837)
      "I personally get ruffled the wrong way when I see people generate insane overhead by latching binaries to mails instead of using sensible ways of transfer (like uploading to some server and sending the FTP link via mail), but that's how mail is being used."

      This is all a matter of perspective and context. There are places where what you describe is probably an appropriate response, but not where I work ... When the development or operations groups point me to their file server or other on-line system, it

    • by drsmithy (35869)

      Yes, that's not what mail is for. I personally get ruffled the wrong way when I see people generate insane overhead by latching binaries to mails instead of using sensible ways of transfer (like uploading to some server and sending the FTP link via mail), but that's how mail is being used.

      This is not a sensible way of transferring files and their associated metadata (which is the important part). It requires additional resources (in the shape of a functioning FTP or webserver), access to said server by t

    • by evanbd (210358)

      Yes, that's not what mail is for. I personally get ruffled the wrong way when I see people generate insane overhead by latching binaries to mails instead of using sensible ways of transfer (like uploading to some server and sending the FTP link via mail), but that's how mail is being used.

      So quit bitching and fix it. If that's what people want out of email, why should there be so much overhead involved? There's no technical reason that emailing a file should be a worse way of sending it than FTP. If

  • Email is just one of many tools we use to communicate, email is not just "for old people", obviously these kids have very little experience with interacting with anyone but their own culture or within their own little world.

    IM, facebook, email, etc... I expect to become more and more integrated over time, until it is a centralized unified communication center. All of them have their place until something comes along that will replace it.
    • obviously these kids have very little experience with interacting with anyone but their own culture or within their own little world.

      How is that different from kids anywhere, ever?
  • by skribe (26534)
    Email, IM, Facebook, Twitter, etc are just tools. The important thing is having a choice of tools to meet your needs.
  • Damn, I'm old. (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward
    My first email was sent through Fidonet. The always connected "Internet" was unaffordable back then.
    • My first email was sent through Fidonet. The always connected "Internet" was unaffordable back then.

      Whoever modded the post funny must be a newbe and think the fidonet has something to do with a dog taking mail as the comic pigeon net.

      Time for a lesson in fidonet. I too sent my first e-mail on Fidonet. A Compuserve connection was like 25 cents a minute. Fidonet was dial-up BBS's relaying mail in the wee hours of the morning when long distance rates was low.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/FidoNet [wikipedia.org]

      Been there d
  • by morari (1080535)
    Give me e-mail over social networks (which is essentially just limited e-mail) and lame text messaging any day!

    Forums, however, do have their time and place!

  • Kids (Score:2, Funny)

    by Matt867 (1184557)
    Them damned whippersnappers and their fancy "Instant Messengers" They are up to no good I tells ye, no good at all!
  • by TheMiddleRoad (1153113) on Sunday November 18, 2007 @12:08AM (#21394967)
    I prefer to communicate with friends via a system that has absolutely no assumption or chance of privacy, and where I can see ads that are actually supposed to be there. Thank you, MySpace, Facebook, and others, for convincing kids that all the stupid crap they say should be owned and data-mined by corporations. In the meantime, I think I'll go login to my Gmail account so I can write to Daddy. I know I can trust good old Google. They put funny logos up for holidays!
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      I agree. Like with so many things, convenience makes people blind to the dangers. Complacency breeds carelessness. Unfortunately the people responsible for protecting the sheeple (i.e. politicians, yes, it's true!) are actually working against them and instead of promoting privacy (e.g. private encryption methods) they openly oppose them in the name of national security.
  • I need Laurel (E-mail) and Hardy (Usenet) to keep in touch but my PUP net only runs at 3 Mbit/sec. Lets see, where did alt.sci.physics.spam go?

    What? Me Old?!?!? ;-}

  • by gelfling (6534) on Sunday November 18, 2007 @12:13AM (#21394999) Homepage Journal
    First had phones. And God created the answering machine and voice mail and said it was good. And hence forth all people would not answer the phone and would not return calls. Then there was the email and people worshipped it verily. Till the spammers gushed from satan's bowels. And low did the email fall. 85 percent did go to the bitbucket unopened. And in the corporation (blessed be he) email distribution lists issued forth like a plague of locusts and verily didst thou receiveth the same email with the same 9MB attachment with a header that speaketh "Me Too!" 40 times.

    So there beget the IM which permitteth thou to put DNC flags and "I'm not here" status lines. Behold it was a wonder. Till the day when thine fellows ignored the status line and sent messages forth, no matter. But the upper middle managers didst avoid this plague with their Blackberries - sending forth SMS and emails 'from the car'. And God saw what he had created and was overflowing with wrath.
  • My college, just like every other organization, runs on email. Yes, we use Facebook messages and IM to communicate, too. But the vast majority of our communication related to school is via email. If a group is advertising an event via Facebook, they'll post the message there and send out an email to their listserv as well. Facebook, sms, and IM are useful in personal communication but there is something more official about an email that I don't think will make it "lose out" any time soon to those alternativ
  • by Critical_ (25211) on Sunday November 18, 2007 @12:28AM (#21395079) Homepage
    I've seen the shift of a lot of non-serious non-real-time discussions to sites such as Facebook. I find this rather irritating because I only get a notification email in my regular Inbox informing me to go check Facebook instead of the message itself. I also can't archive and refer to old messages which may have event information, phone numbers, etc. due to the lack of advanced features on those sites. I understand this method of logging in generates ad revenue for the site, but when I'm on the road I'd like to respond via push-email in my down-time instead of having to find a public wifi access point.

    Although I'm sure this will violate Facebook's TOS in some way, an existing project like FreePOPS [freepops.org] or a server-side daemon could be modified to fetch messages in my Facebook and Myspace inboxes and move them to my regular email account. Then they could be pushed to my phone and archived in my local email application.

    Facebook needs to consider allowing POP/IMAP access to the inbox and only allow messages to be sent to other Facebook members via the same method. Facebook already forces verification of accounts via college email addresses or via mobile phone text messages which helps cut down spam and viruses. This allows a very large white-list of sorts with a global address book. With more businesses becoming present in the Facebook world, legitimate corporate advertising could be allow/blocked simply by altering account privacy settings. I see it as a win-win for Facebook.
  • IM sucks (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Reality Master 101 (179095) <RealityMaster101&gmail,com> on Sunday November 18, 2007 @12:30AM (#21395087) Homepage Journal

    More like, "IM is for kids with unlimited time", rather than email is for old people. For awhile, I used IM a lot, then I figured out what an incredible time sink it was. I changed my account and gave it only to a few select people, and even then it's only used when someone wants to ask me a quick question or give me a "come here a second".

    I suspect that rather than be some generational thing that only the new generation "gets it", it'll be abandoned by that same generation once they grow up and get real lives.

    • It's worse - IM is for people who have nothing better to do than be interrupted all the time. My former boss used to love IMing us, probably because the immediacy of the communication mechanism appealed to his ego. Unfortunately, anyone involved in getting work done was subject to a crapflood of interruptions. IM was great for him, but ultimately made everyone else unproductive. My IM client "crashed" long ago, and it crashed so hard it appears to have blown the executable bits right off the hard drive

  • I just feel like playing "one up" with the submitter. I sent my first email in 1986...

    These kids today, sheesh :)
  • by 4minus0 (325645) on Sunday November 18, 2007 @01:02AM (#21395225)
    there fixed that for you.
  • I am not surprised, Gen Y seems pretty stupid when it comes to picking trends. By only using Facebook or My Space they are limiting themselves to only communicating with people on these services. Also this story is a repeat.
  • by slapout (93640) on Sunday November 18, 2007 @03:06AM (#21395741)
    How are these people signing up for Facebook and Myspace without email addresses? :-)
  • by Bananas (156733) on Sunday November 18, 2007 @05:32AM (#21396199) Homepage
    Ok, as an *email admin*, let's look at this mess:

    1. Writer seems to be bemoaning their age. I have four words for the writer, IM-style: STFU.

    2. Shiny new tech (IM) is actually gussied up old tech (IRC), with some new makeup, red dress, pump heels and matching faux p2p protocol. Not that there's anything wrong with IM, it's just that, um, it's been around a bit longer than people might realize. It's looking younger, but its at least several decades old.

    3. Email is older still. It's showing it's age, and it's been to the doc's office a few times to get a physical (damn spam rash keeps showing up in my queues doc, canya give me a bayesian ointment to treat it?)

    4. People who are not working full-time and/or in a domestic setting frankly have lots and lots of time for this. People who have been working for years and have a spouse and mortgage/rent and 2.5 kids and all the other claptrap of middle age frankly don't have alot of time for things, so it's really nice to have the message waiting for me for when I'm ready for it.

    IM isn't a generational/age thing, it's a "stage of my life" thing. In a nutshell: it has nothing to do with age, get the elitist ageism out of the picture, no-one gives a crap if you use email, IM, or even smoke signals. Just get the f'n message out the door, that's all that matters.

    5. Keeping email for future reference is comparatively easy. I have several people in the company I work for that have emails going back 3, 4, 5+ years (yes, their mailboxes have message counts in the 6-digit range). Keeping ongoing records for business, personal, or legal needs with an IM client is just asking for trouble. Yeah, you can save your dialogs - but can you sift through them and pick out that one message from 3 years ago? Do you even HAVE messages from 3 years ago? Do you really care to store those messages that said "I hngry lts eat"?

    Move along folks, nothing to see here....

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