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Is Email Obsolete for Millennials? October 10, 2006

Posted by Michael Sensiba in Email, Instant Messaging, SMS, Social Networking.

An article in the Chronicle of Higher Education, “E-Mail is for Old People,” points out that college students rarely, if ever, check their campus email accounts. Students, often preferring contact through IM or their MySpace or Facebook accounts, eschew email as “too confusing” or for “old people”. They often treat email from their institutions as spam.

While email is not the only way to communicate electronically, it is still to be considered a serious tool. While IM is great for chatting with friends interactively, much serious work requires some forethought and composition of the message (including attachments). Email communication is, first and foremost, asynchronous. It allows communication at the time and choosing of the recipient. This choice permits the recipient to prioritize his/her time more easily than the tyranny of the ringing phone (land line or mobile) or popup message. And unlike some social networking sites, email communication is essentially non-public, which also lends itself to serious uses.

So why all the emphasis on the serious? Because much of the communication that today’s students will encounter in the “real world” will need to share the characteristics of email: asynchronous, non-public, and at least somewhat thought through. Other technologies will probably embrace some of these characteristics, but email isn’t going anywhere soon, so students might as well get comfortable with it.



1. Mary Sunshine - December 7, 2006

Hi Sensiba,

I just came across your post doing a google search on:
email obsolete

This, after sorting thru the *second* 150 spams in my pop3 email quarantine.

We desperately need a way of doing the kind of communication that you describe, without having to go back to snailmail.

Thanks for your ruminations. :-)


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