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Do You Think Google Wave, or Some Other Application, Will Ever Make Email Obsolete?

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Google Wave has said that their goal is to make email obsolete.  And with all the spam and e-noise that email now generates, that doesn't seem like such a bad idea.  But when I think of a life without email, I can't imagine one.  Do you ever see a time when email will be obsolete?

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  • Geesh, I hope so. Email works because it's the lowest common denominator, but it's been in dire need of an overhaul to become more secure, offer better compartmentalization of communications and make synchronous and asynchronous indistinguishable.

  • Google Wave is very creative and could have some advantages over e-mail. However, I do not think this application or other similar application will make e-mail obsolete, same as e-mail did not make mail obsolete or Instant Messaging did not make e-mail obsolete. For certain tasks, mainly collaborative mailing, it may replace e-mail, but for one to one communication traditional e-mail will be used despite its limitations.
    e-mail vs. Google Wave is similar to Word Processor vs. Wikis. Wikis did not replace Word Processor but are better fit for collaborative documents. Although, I do not think Google Wave will replace e-mail it may improve it significantly. The future e-mail may include some of Google Wave ideas, such as single copy of messages.

  • Will email ever be obsolete. In my view of the world, many things will be obsolete - email being the least of these. But in the nearer term, as others have said, email as we know it will morph - it needs to - it's unmanageable and outdated as a communication paradigm. Will it be obsolete? Probably not but will it change? Absolutely.

  • Email will become obsolete in the same sense that Snail Mail or regularly delivered Postal Mail has become obsolete!

    Does every country in the world still have Postal Mail> Why sure, they do! Do you and me keep sending each other mail and memos in paper and in envelopes, not much anymore!

    There was a time when you used to copy all of your friends on the latest information that interested all of you. You moved that to Twitter and other social networking devices.

    Email will still be around but things that don't belong there naturally will get moved to other mechanisms, hopefully leaving email less cluttered!

    I am not sure if this is a prediction or a fond hope given the email deluge everyone has to deal with everyday! :-) :-)

  • There is no alternative to email until we humans change the way we think about mail and addresses. Thirty years from now everything will be IM and it will be popular and all messages will be 140 chars. Kids will have no idea how to write emails and kids will be using Google wave version 30.1 ;)...until then we are stuck with email.

  • I find myself agreeing strongly with JPM that a major issue of email, and something that Wave only hints at, is better compartmentalization of communication.

    Currently we have the 'here and now' bucket of IM and phone, the 'everything else that can wait' (more than two minutes) of email, and the 'everything I'll probably ignore' of Twitter and Facebook. This is compartmentalism by 'urgency', though I don't think I want synchronous and asynchronous to be indistinguishable.

    The buckets that none of these media take into account is the category of work the messages apply to (though Facebook tries in a funny sort of friends-grouping/inbox/requests way). My background being business process management and workflow tools means that I see work distribution being more ordered and categorized, often into queues (though that's an outdated metaphor too).

    Once we have buckets that represent the category of work, then the next modern communications platform needs better process and traceability, and... I could go on.

    Email is great for simple, friendly communications. For professional work it really is the lowest common denominator. Wave may turn out to be an even bigger suck of productivity, since its current form seems to present a 'must do now' approach, which never allows you to do what you really must do now.

    Phil Ayres

  • "Ever" is a long, long, long time. In that much time, most of what we know, let alone email, might be obsolete. But in the foreseeable future, I don't think email is going anywhere. Heck, email has been around for more than a couple of decades, and "snail" mail is still very much around and kicking.

  • Email? What's that? ;-)

    They said social networking, text messaging and IM would also kill off email. But they didn't. Many rely on email to be alerted to their Twitter and Facebook messages. A hybrid between two technologies that works.

    Not all hybrids work. Here's a little story: One of the first attempts at external business-to-business email was launched around 1982, by the US Postal Service. Here's how it worked: you were set up with a terminal, and transmitted your message to USPS. USPS would then forward the electronic message to the post office in closest proximity to your recipient. A hard-copy message was then printed out at that facility, and mailed through regular channels as regular first-class mail. So, it probably still took a day or two!

    The flaws in email have been worked out since that first hybrid attempt. And despite the spammers (who have to ruin everything), it's been working well. And its now universally accepted.

  • Email's going to be around. It's an electronic version of a form of asynchronous communications that is centuries old. Yeah we get spam, but we get junk mail too.

    According to the "pundits" the Internet should have killed radio, tv, print, brick and mortar shopping, and the post office by now. They may be dying a slow death but they ain't dead yet.

  • For me it isn't an either-or proposition. Email systems aren't really static, they have evolved over time. That is why email is still, by far, the prefered ad-hoc, unstructured, human collaboration and process management platform in business (at least if you measure by number of users, not necessarily their satisfaction).
    Google Wave functionality and paradigms will make their way into next generation of email systems, and help bridge the gap between how email is used in business - and what it does best.
    I'll go out on a limb here - but I think a modified version email will still be the defacto standard for unstructured business process and collaboration management for the next 10 years.

  • My answer is clear: YES.
    For me it is very simple. Email is a protocol. It is not proprietary.
    You are welcome to read more.


  • Wave cannot 'replace' email. While both are communication protocols, and therefore appear to perform roughly analogous functions, there are significant differences in the underlying 'metaphors' and ontology of the two protocols.

    Email, uses the object metaphor. The cognitive models we use with email are based on the way we think about 'things'. Things have a 'place', they can be copied, etc. This leads to thing-oriented behaviour. A communication using an 'object' moves (sends) the object. The object can be copied. It can be shared.

    Wave, uses location, or a space/time metaphor. A wave is not a thing that gets 'sent'. It is a space that gets opened, and into which people may come and go to interact with others.

    The Wave metaphor (elegantly) solves some real problems that email cannot. (Wikis elegantly solve problems file-based thing-like documents create for exactly the same reason.)

    Both email and wave can be used for communication and collaboration, but wave (or something like it) can supplant email because the efficiency of the behaviours supported by the spatial model.

  • Well, I think that it could replace eMail, but this, only if Google handles it properly.

    I think they are lacking a bunch of things. First of all, I do not like to check my mail on a browser. In order for me to stop using eMail I would need a GOOD and complete desktop client, yet, this is secondary.

    What I would do would be to merge eMail with Wave smoothly, introducing features to users one by one, making it a very slow, but effective implementation.

    Why? I invited about 9 friends to Wave. They each invited 2 or 3. So, I have about 20 wavers that are my friends, but they do not get into their waves. Not even once a week. Therefore, I do not either. I just installed a Wave notifier. Problem comes there. I love wave and I think it is a great idea, but it is like email and conventional mail. It took more than 20 years to really take its place (mid 1990s when email became a widespread thing).

    I do think it can. Just! If Google knows how to introduce it to us :)

    Good day

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