Does email even work anymore?

Does email work anymore as a way to connect people who share the same interests, in the old-school Internet sense of the community that forms around a well-managed, well-moderated mailing list? I’m starting to think after having my inbox fill up with well-intentioned communications that the era of the mailing list is over, and with it the era of any other use for email except the purely transactional.

My email messages are relatively long (compared to IMs or tweets), relatively formal, and carefully composed. A single message will sit in my inbox for more than 24 hours before I feel ready to give it its due. In a world of instant messaging that looks more and more like an anachronism, as though I were pulling out a quill pen to communicate with when everyone else was merrily texting away.

I run some long-running mailing lists, and I’ve started to itch at the limitations of Yahoo Groups for community engagement and for attracting new people who don’t really want their inboxes to fill up with chit-chat. There must be a better way.

(Ironically, I’ll probably email this post out to one of those lists, and will get more comments back from the email than I will get from this blog.)

1 thought on “Does email even work anymore?

  1. Larry Works

    Feeling the same way these day. Won’t go into the embarrassing details but over the years it’s become more trouble than it’s worth. Do I still use it, you bet. It’s my primary online communication tool both personally and professionally.
    When I want people to know how I feel, that’s where Social Media fits for me (my own particular twist). My younger colleagues (think Makerspaces) think it’s hilarious and just roll their eyes. Most seem to use it when they have to (ie. their work requires it, businesses they want to work with require it, school requires it, etc.). Otherwise they try to avoid it and don’t see the need to maintain (or even retain) email sent and/or received. And that I real difficulty getting my head around.
    Recently I tried using UNROLL.ME to reduce the flow because like you, I’ve been around the block and receive way more emails than I want to deal with. But it resulted in my NOT seeing things in a timely fashion, NOT finding things quickly and NOT saving any time. Exactly the opposite of its intended goal.
    So I’m still looking for alternatives. Still exploring better ways to communicate and still trying to use Social Media tools for more than just social things.
    btw – It doesn’t help that I push my hardware and software tools WELL beyond their intended lifecycles 😉
    Yours In Solidarity.


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