Monday, December 11, 2006

Emails (Part 1)

The ubiquity of the personal computer with the addition of the internet, and more specifically, the world wide web have changed the way we think about communication. Older methods of communication have not been replaced by new methods. Instead new methods still exist and will continue to exist for quite some time. Allow me to illustrate.

15 years ago few people had the internet in their homes. High Speed internet in the home was unheard of. Real time duplex communication was achieved with the telephone. Long term duplex communication was achieved with letters. Faxes were used, as were ham radios. Simplex communication came through newspapers, radio, and television. (Reciprocal communication came in through phone calls and letters to the editor.)

All of those options still exist, and still serve the same purposes. The web has introduced new methods of communication: instant messaging, chat rooms, email, VOIP, and blogs. (Some older methods of Simplex communication have found a new medium on the web, but remain ultimately the same.)

Email does not replace snail mail. Emails tend to be short, quick, informal, and not much special. Letters are still more formal, and a much bigger deal. Having a correspondence with a member of the opposite sex via email is nice, but it somehow doesn't reach half the excitement of a snail mail correspondence, especially when email is open to her as an option.

Instant messaging does not replace phone calls. Instant messaging only works when the other is there. And just because the other person is there doesn't mean you have to talk. The phone works when the other person isn't there. The phone rings and we run like Ben Johnson to get it because heaven forfend we might miss a call. Missing someone on an instant messaging service is no big deal.

Okay, okay. I admit VOIP might replace the traditional phone. But, again, that's simply a new medium for an old communication method.

Chat rooms aren't new to the internet, but certainly increased in scope and popularity with the net. Chat rooms have existed on BBSs for a while now.

And, of course there are blogs. Blogs are a new kind of journalism. Without blogs how could someone like me, with little spelling or grammatical talent, be published anywhere? And here I publish as often as I like! And you can give immediate feedback. And I can write about whatever I wish. One day I write about how the McQueen's car has broken down. The next day I might share a pet peeve. The next day I may expound on an implication of my observation that your average person can't assemble a home-stereo system when left to their own intellect.

Naturally some people and some companies are a little behind the times. Some don't have emails. Where I work instant messaging is a nay-nay, but email is a necessity. I think in today's day and age email is a necessity for most people living in an information oriented society. (In other words, I don't hold it against the Amazonian pygmy for not having an email address.) But some people still have trouble with dealing with email. I'll get to that in my next post.

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