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Hi, I’m Brad Feld, a managing director at the Foundry Group who lives in Boulder, Colorado. I invest in software and Internet companies around the US, run marathons and read a lot.

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When I Said Email I Meant Messaging

Comments (2)

In my I Love Email post, I got a wonderful comment from my friend Fred Wilson that said:

to each his/her own these days. my kids use facebook and text messaging for the most part but now that they have email on their phones (bberry and iphone) they use that as well, but it’s not their primary messaging system. i still use email as my primary method, but as someone else said, it’s the new snail mail. i hate doing it and its a chore. i called it "homework" on twitter today. that’s how i feel about it. i find text messaging and twitter are best for me, but they will only be better for a while. they will get more noisy and i’ll have to move to something else. i don’t use facebook messaging at all. when people send me facebook messages, they are talking to a black hole

To that I say "Correct!"  When I say "email", I’m really saying "messaging", although I hate the phrases "messaging" and "collaboration".

Deva Hazarika, the CEO of ClearContext, has an excellent followup post titled Three next steps for email.  In it he identifies three areas where email clients haven’t kept up with the pace of change (volume, integration, and context.)  I’ll add a fourth – social graph – I only want one of them!

  • rick

    The thing that made email so popular is what makes it such a pain now – you can send emails to anyone if you know their address.

    Need to send a message to several people? Email it. Doesn't matter if we work in the same company or not – as long as I their email addresses can reach them. And I can email you from my Mac and cc someone whose desktop is Linux and another person who uses Windows XP and one who's on Vista. Your email server can be Exchange, mine's Postfix. None of that matters. We can all happily trade emails and collaborate that way.

    Oh but that's old hat… let me just make this post in Basecamp… oh hold it, some of the people I need to reach are not users on my Basecamp account. Collaboration tools are nice for defined teams, but not so good for adhoc groups of people. Plus, if we all belong to several virtual teams we need to remember different accounts… and it's not all Basecamp, some people like other online collaboration tools… Sigh. Messy.

    I know, I'll blog it and they can all reply. Hmm…. it's a sensitive topic… I don't want the post seen by just anyone… but some of the people I need to reach are external and can't get to my internal blog. Oh and… how do they know about my post in the first place? I know! I'll send an email about it!!

    I love IM and I'm liking twitter… but email is universal, easy, only requires me to know your address and it's asynchronous. IM, like the phone, is insistent that I pay attention RIGHT NOW. And if I'm sending…what if you're not online? With email I can fire off a message with thoughts…. and then we can follow up on IM or whatever's appropriate.

    Any replacement for email has to replicate its very real advantages… and we need to leave the either/or mindset behind. Email is an arrow in the messaging quiver. So is IM, so are wikis and Twitter. Use them when their advantages help you. Don't use them if another tool is better.

  • http://blog.snipperoo.com Ivan Pope

    I think that believing that Twitter or IM can replace email or worse, that email is just a chore that keeps one away from the exciting stuff – that's to lose the plot on what it is we're supposed to be doin gin the first place. That said, it is equally difficult to get a difinitive response out of Fred using either email or Twitter. In that case there is no correct answer.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/rick15371 rick15371

    The thing that made email so popular is what makes it such a pain now – you can send emails to anyone if you know their address.

    Need to send a message to several people? Email it. Doesn't matter if we work in the same company or not – as long as I their email addresses can reach them. And I can email you from my Mac and cc someone whose desktop is Linux and another person who uses Windows XP and one who's on Vista. Your email server can be Exchange, mine's Postfix. None of that matters. We can all happily trade emails and collaborate that way.

    Oh but that's old hat… let me just make this post in Basecamp… oh hold it, some of the people I need to reach are not users on my Basecamp account. Collaboration tools are nice for defined teams, but not so good for adhoc groups of people. Plus, if we all belong to several virtual teams we need to remember different accounts… and it's not all Basecamp, some people like other online collaboration tools… Sigh. Messy.

    I know, I'll blog it and they can all reply. Hmm…. it's a sensitive topic… I don't want the post seen by just anyone… but some of the people I need to reach are external and can't get to my internal blog. Oh and… how do they know about my post in the first place? I know! I'll send an email about it!!

    I love IM and I'm liking twitter… but email is universal, easy, only requires me to know your address and it's asynchronous. IM, like the phone, is insistent that I pay attention RIGHT NOW. And if I'm sending…what if you're not online? With email I can fire off a message with thoughts…. and then we can follow up on IM or whatever's appropriate.

    Any replacement for email has to replicate its very real advantages… and we need to leave the either/or mindset behind. Email is an arrow in the messaging quiver. So is IM, so are wikis and Twitter. Use them when their advantages help you. Don't use them if another tool is better.

  • Ivan Pope

    I think that believing that Twitter or IM can replace email or worse, that email is just a chore that keeps one away from the exciting stuff – that's to lose the plot on what it is we're supposed to be doin gin the first place. That said, it is equally difficult to get a difinitive response out of Fred using either email or Twitter. In that case there is no correct answer.

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