Inspired by a series of articles, YouTube videos, and numerous “expert” discussions, I’d like to take this opportunity to peer into my own crystal ball and predict that we will soon see peak e-mail.
Currently, about 3 billion e-mails are sent every day. Although I was unable to find any precise figures on the ratio of e-mails to instant messages and social media, the accompanying figure (source) reveals a clear trend in favor of new social media applications like Facebook, Google+, and Twitter as well as Wikis and Blogs.
Mr. Kampffmeyer wrote an article in which he described the inherent inconvenience and inefficiency of e-mail as well as the many benefits of social media applications. Luis Suarez of IBM made similar observations in his presentation “Thinking Outside the Inbox” at the Web 2.0 Expo Europe. His presentation is highly recommended, particularly minutes 4-6, wherein he describes how the use of community-based social applications brought greater transparency and trust to IBM. Equally important, his experiments finally put an end to the political games of CC and BCC.
Referencing an error report on the web, Jürg Truniger brought to my attention yet another disadvantage of e-mail: e-mails lack the structure provided by a web form’s attribution. This makes it much harder and more labor intensive to assign e-mails to the right case records.
We can expect our communication pathways to shift from e-mail to social media over the next several years. This development will give another boost to web archiving, since it enables legal retention of social media within the established framework of records management.