Monday, November 19, 2007

Ways to communicate

Every so often in my inbox arrives an e-mail saying 'you haven't replied to my e-mail, did you get it...' which prompts me to go 'whoops, I read it and forgot to reply'. I keep reading articles which predict the "Death of E-Mail" and "Kids say e-mail is like sooooo dead" and a large part of me feels that there's something in the water where that particular charge is concerned. It set me thinking about the ways in which I communicate these days...

1. Face-to-face
2. Facebook to Facebook
3. Forums
4. Blogs
5. Skype
6. Phone
7. E-mail
8. A.n.other way!

Sometimes I communicate by not communicating myself - I subscribe to a fair few RSS feeds and have them drifting quietly into Google Reader as they are released onto the internet. I read blogs - read, not necessarily always comment. I communicate and don't expect a reply - I may post a link to, a picture to Flickr, a link to a Facebook group. Yes, I check my e-mail every day, but I've got into the habit of not replying immediately and my lack of filing moves their priority further down the list than they used to be. I can't quite pin down why that is. Maybe it feels clunky? Maybe it's just not addictive in the way some social networking sites can be? Maybe there are other ways to communicate which provide other services and are better integrated into your consciousness?

It struck me how much I've learned by using various web 2.0 technologies. I've done a lot more written reflection since keeping various blogs. I've touched base with a load more of my 'friends' (friends in the 'there's no other category to describe the multitude of relationships you have with people' kinda way). I've read more. Thought more. Connected more. And e-mail seems stuck in a period before that. Spam swarms into my mailbox. Viruses abound. You can filter. You can file. But still the onslaught continues...

Maybe it's just Mark Anderson's 'long tail' at work? So many ways of communicating that every niche is catered for. E-mail is stuck in the head? Doing what it does (mainly alerting me to what's happening elsewhere!), but if you're looking for a particular way of keeping in touch, then you just toddle down the long tail to find it? It doesn't mean what it once did to me anyway... but what was that... and what is it now?! Have things changed... or is it one of those weird breakups which start 'it's not you, it's me'...

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