Here’s an interesting writeup about how email is becoming more and more a technology that the old fogies used to use.
A poll conducted by Chungbuk University computer education professor Lee Ok-hwa on over 2,000 middle, high school and college students in Gyeonggi and Chungcheong provinces in October revealed that more than two-thirds of the respondents said, “I rarely use or don’t use e-mail at all.”
The reasons given for shunning email are that it’s impossible to tell whether an addressee has received a message right away and replies are not immediately forthcoming. Still another reason is that you send messages through SMS or [instant] messenger as if you were playing a game, while doing so through email makes you feel as if you are doing homework or performing a task. “The new generation hate agonizing and waiting and tend to express their feelings immediately,” said Professor Lee. “The decline of email is a natural outcome reflecting such characteristics of the new generation.”
This is interesting because I can’t rightly say that email technology even really got picked up here in the Philippines, what with less than 1 million people with regular internet access. SMS is much more prevalent but I’ve always felt that texting was more of a transitory medium, until our cell networks can support longer, rich-media-type messages … in other words, email. But now that everyone is getting in on the IM thing, I think what we’ll eventually see is a sort of merging of cellphone SMS and the internet’s IM technology. Something a bit more seamless than Yahoo’s “I’m on SMS” status messages, at least.
I guess Korea is experiencing this decline in email usage because the people that make up their online population are mostly students, who have no real use for the “formality” of an email. My experience with IM is that you usually end up having long, winding conversations peppered with emoticons and hehe’s which are ultimately, of no real consequence. Also, most messenger apps are pretty lax when it comes to archiving and address book organization so it doesn’t have the same sort of permanence and maintainability that email does … at least, not yet.
I think that when 3G becomes the de facto wireless network around the world, we’ll see a real convergence of technologies in the communication arena. SMS/MMS will be the first thing to die out, with a more cellphone-friendly version of IM becoming the short-messaging technology of choice. Maybe IM will eventually replace all types of communication — we already have voice and video chat built right into most clients — but for the next 3 or 4 years, I think I’ll stick with my spam-infested inbox.