Wednesday, June 14, 2006

E-mail is, like, so 2000

Just when you thought you had it figured out ... and considering that some (make that many) papers still are struggling just to do e-mail alerts ... I submit this for your consideration from the San Jose Mercury News:

Teens Turn Away From E-Mail: SITES LIKE MYSPACE OFFERING `INSTANT' SOCIAL SCENE, FAST MESSAGING ATTRACT YOUNG USERS, STUDY SHOWS

An excerpt:
"It's too complicated to send e-mail," Jennica said. "I have to go in and type it, and send it, then wait for a reply."

So what is your organization doing to prepare for when these folks become adults?

This isn't just a "journalism" problem:
  • Education: What will institutions do as the push is to move away from the "sage on stage" to the "guide on the side" -- and maybe even beyond that. Already, e-mail has brought complaints from professors that it is breaking down the social barriers(NYT) and demanding more and more of their time (Cal Aggie). Sure, you can draw a line and say enough is enough, but when you have a whole generation used to text messaging and instant answers, how long before that societal pressure bends or breaks that line? (As already noted by one professor in the California Aggie story linked above: Shauman said some of the more personal, detailed e-mails she has received from students are evidence of how unprepared students are for academic life. Although she appreciates that students are reaching out, she said it is to the wrong people. If faculty members are expected to address these issues, there is a need to address the expectations and training of faculty, she said.)
  • Governments: The standard government operating policy during disasters is to be news conference and TV centric. The work I and others have done indicates few have thought about the switch to mobile, instant communication and the demand for instant answers. That might have been OK in the "computer" era -- if people had to leave their homes, they were leaving their computing power behind, by and large. But with cell phones, BlackBerries and other portable devices, that power now moves with them. If you have a generation brought up on instant messaging, will that generation come to expect instant answers during a crisis? As other authors have noted, governments' defining, live-or-die moments come during crisis, no matter how good a job they may have done otherwise. Just ask FEMA.

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