Favorite Mode of Communication: IM or Email?

What is your preferred mode of communication? Personally, I’m an email person. If you want to get in touch with me, the fastest way is probably via email because I always have it in front of me. I essentially don’t check my email – my email client is always open and it makes sounds when new email comes in. I also have a plugin in my browser which also notifies me when something hits my gmail account. So chances are that if I’m at my desk, I will see your email within minutes from when it drops into my inbox – and I will probably reply to it immediately.

My brother on the other hand hardly ever uses email. He has some sort of yahoo or hotmail account that he uses for signing up for online services, but he completely ignores all the Gmail invites I send him. He simply doesn’t use email for social purposes. If you want to get a hold of him, you have to use IM or just call him. If you email him, your message will get lost in the avalanche of spam and probably accidentally deleted when he logs into his account again in 2 months. His IM on the other hand is on 24/7. If he is our of the house, or sleeping he has an away message in place to capture all the IM’s sent to him during the day.

Not a very robust solution btw – a simple power outage forcing a shutown will destroy all the queued messages he might have gotten so far. Then again, maybe the client he uses has resolved this issue already. Unlikely though.

So here is what I noticed: my generation is mostly reliant on Email as the primary mode of electronic communication. My brother’s generation and below (he is a Junior in College now) on the other hand seems to rely on IM, supplementing it’s lack of permanence with messaging systems on social networks. These people don’t have actual emails. Or rather they do – one for work, and one for school. And they check both of them only when they have to. So if you send them something on a Friday afternoon, you won’t likely get an answer till Monday or later in the week. But you can easily MySpace or Facebook them and get a response immediately regardless of the time of day or night.

I find it very odd because dealing with the awkward MySpace messaging system gives me diarrhea. Compared to a feature set of your average webmail client (especially in post Gmail era where everyone uses AJAX and gives you pentabytes of space) the social network alternatives are just retarded. But then again, who am I to judge.

What is your favorite mode of electronic communication?
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I wonder what will happen in 10-20 years. I have no doubts that email will remain one of the primary modes of electronic communication in the corporate world and academia. But what about social circles? Will social networks, and hybrid apps like twitter replace email as the prominent communication medium for just shooting the shit? What do you think?

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8 Responses to Favorite Mode of Communication: IM or Email?

  1. Ricardo INDIA Mozilla Firefox Windows says:

    For me, IM are great only when you need to talk about many things that need the interaction. You know, when your counterpart’s opinion might influence what you’re going to say next.

    In my case, particularly, Social Networks are good to keep track of the people I meet around the world. Plus, tools such as Skype are great to talk using VoIP – which is better than simple IM text.

    Anyway, e-mail is still the BEST! Specially Gmail and the way it organizes the messages and makes it easy to find them.

    By the way, many IM allows you to store the messages offline (you probably knew that, but anyway). So in case of a power outage, your brother would still be able to recover those messages although it wouldn’t be easy to identify who sent something between the time he was away and the power outage.

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  2. Craig Betts UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Solaris Terminalist says:

    Mine used to be email, but that goes back to the days before all these viruses (virii?) hit main stream. It seams mail is getting slower and slower. With it being a store-n-forward type of service, this is understandable.

    IM has taken email’s happy place. Google talk specifically for me since I maintain copies of all my chats in GMail. Kinda the best of both worlds. IM is also immediate. No more calling people asking if my email got through. It is also a great tool to see if a friend is even on line. At one time, I used IRC quite heavily until a bot bashed my system. Jabber has given me the breath of fresh air, but I am sure it is only time before someone writes some kind of malware to attack that.

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  3. Matt` UNITED KINGDOM Mozilla Firefox Windows Terminalist says:

    For conversation or spontaneous planning, IM

    For anything with more deliberation, like medium/longer term plans, or contacting a company (for tech support and the like), email

    I have once ended up receiving tech support via IM, but I prefer email for the same reason as I prefer email to the phone for such things – you can do other stuff, take a while to reply, go away and try stuff at your own pace and so on

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  4. vacri AUSTRALIA Mozilla Firefox Windows says:

    The beautiful thing about email is that you don’t have to be on a particular network to talk to someone. Although lots of people do have multiple IM accounts, there are plenty who refuse to use more than one, which creates enclaves.

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  5. Craig Betts UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Mac OS Terminalist says:

    [quote post=”1905″]ere are plenty who refuse to use more than one, which creates enclaves[/quote]

    Guilty as charged. I currently use YIM and GTalk with Lotus Sametime at work. I used to have AIM until I got seriously spammed. Most people know of my Microsoft hatred, so no point in covering MSN.

    The cool thing is that I only use one client for all three. I use pidgeon (formerly GAIM) on my UNIX systems and Adium on my Mac.

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  6. Luke Maciak UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Windows says:

    Heh, same here – most of the people I know are on AIM. Few are on GTalk. I currently don’t know anyone who uses MSN. My bother has a YIM account but he uses trillian and so he is also signed into AIM.

    Personally I use Pidgin on all my systems. I really like what they did with the most recent version.

    Actually, come to think of it, I think I do have a yahoo account – via Flicker. I presume I could use that login to chat on YIM.

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  7. Ricardo INDIA Mozilla Firefox Windows says:

    Thanks for the tip, Luke! Pidgin is actually very neat!

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  8. vloweer BELGIUM Safari Mac OS says:

    i only use emails, i’m not even using my cell phone, not to mention facebook and others. People around me are shocked and confused that they can’t find informations about me in the internet

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