21 June 2008

The Un-Email Generation

One interesting thing about teaching accounting students at the university is that I get to ask them what they think about various web trends that I follow. It's nothing formal, more of a straw poll or temperature check. But it still helps me to understand a more mainstream view of current web trends. This is important to help me stay grounded since many of my friends are uber-geeks who are definitely not a representative sample.

So far this year, the big thing in my classes is how much anyone under 30 just does not really 'get' email. They state a clear preference for instant messaging (IM) and mobile phone text messaging. Hardly any of them use MySpace, and only a handful use Facebook, some use Hi 5. Zero among them have ever heard of Bebo.

This aligns with other anecdotal evidence - e.g. Jeremiah Owyang's younger sibling who told him that “I only use email to get a hold of old people like you”.

On the other hand, my informal research indicates that people over 30 actually cannot imagine why you would use anything else but email! They also seem to find the notion of using social networking sites quite baffling. A few even confessed that they had never purchased anything online due to security concerns (not surprising as I suspect that mature age accounting students might err on the side of caution in a number of areas).

Funnily enough, I hate both email and voicemail, much preferring the short text based message services for their brevity and utility. Thus my liking for Twitter. And, given the recent problems that I've been having with my email services, it has just reinforced my feelings.

By Carruthers via Aide-mémoire

1 comment:

alecthegeek said...

I have a interesting model here in my house. Mu wife and her three sisters are a) spread all over the world and b) not geeky (but I still love her).

They now use model where they use Skype for both voice (they have a mega chat conference every weekend) and text messages throughout the week.

Now I would use email for that because the communication is asynchronous during the week (work, kids, etc.) However they are not all familiar with using email and so that never worked as well. Their Skype model of always having a chat window open and just typing messages to be picked up later seems to be efficient for them. i.e. they seem to have evolved a set of conventions and techniques to make it work.

Different folks, different ways of abusing technology I guess...