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Email is Dead. Long Live Email!

May 10, 2013

If email is more important than ever, how come no one remembers your email address? I was having a facebook conversation with a friend. Actually, she was a friend of a friend, so I really didn’t know her. She said,

I can’t tell you my hotmail account email even. It’s been 2 years since I stopped using it and I kinda wish I could remember. I had some photos of me when I actually looked awesome hidden in there lol.

She did move to gmail and back to yahoo, but she also uses Facebook and Skype.

I was working for Microsoft when they launched MSN on August 24th, 1995. Initially it was an Internet Service Provider. (Yeah, this was back in the dial up days.) Internally, they strongly encouraged, actually they begged us to sign up for accounts. We pretty much had our pick of any email address. I picked “rbliss” and the domain name, of course was “” Eventually, I left Microsoft and my [email protected] address. But, I took my MSN address with me. Through private consulting, multiple stays at companies large and small, I’ve kept that address and more importantly kept it off most SPAM lists. You could always get me there.

When I left my most recent position, I sent the obligatory “So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish” email. But, I didn’t give people my address. Instead I said, “My LinkedIn profile is always up-to-date. You can reach me there.” Several of my friends have kept in contact. They have no idea what my email address is, nor do they care.

*I* care, of course. It’s the login name for LinkedIn. But, if I change my address, no one is going to care.

Email is dead.

Why say “Email is Dead. Long Live Email?”

Being an American, I think I can be forgiven for spending most of my life screwing up the phrase, “The king is dead. Long live the king.” My English friends, (And my Scottish friends who no longer bother to correct me when I call them English) explained that the phrase was actually talking about two people. It’s the idea that when one king dies, another takes his place. But, don’t you guys have a queen?

So, what took email’s place?

You already know. You are most likely coming to this blog from Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter. My address auto-updates to those three services. Some of you have signed up to be notified when I post a new blog entry. (A fact that is both humbling and inspiring to me. Thank you!) Chances are, I do not know your email, nor did you probably know mine, before I gave it to you above. But, if you have a question, or you disagree with my ramblings, there are multiple avenues where you can comment.

I needed something today from a group of 10 friends. I had a momentary panic attack when I realized that I didn’t have email address for all of them. Then I remembered we are living in the 21st century, not the 20th. I sent some by email, others by Facebook private message and some via LinkedIn message service.

Because I have notifications set up in my mail client for all the various services, the responses all arrive in the same place with links back to the various social media sites. I still own a half dozen email accounts. I have two gmail accounts, a Hotmail account, and a couple low volume ones associated with services I subscribe to. But, when I get an email they all flow into a single client, so I often don’t know what service a message came from. And I don’t care.

It’s like Deja Vu All Over Again

We’ve been through this before.

I’m old enough to remember this.

Honestly, I remember the ones with a dial, but I don’t actually own one of those really old ones. You’ll notice there’s no cord attached, I don’t have dial up service at my house. We just have an extra Cricket phone that we use for the house phone.

But, back when I used the analog phone, I had to either memorize phone numbers or keep a list next to the phone. I still remember phone numbers from high school. Today, I don’t know my own mother’s phone number. I don’t need to, it’s in this.
And I’ll bet you don’t remember many phone numbers either. We get it once, or more often “Text me so that I’ll have your number in my phone,” and save it to your contacts list.

We get the number and don’t even look at it. Phones have a big disadvantage compared to email. My cousin recently announced “I lost my phone, everyone call or text me your numbers.” She posted the message on Facebook, of course.

Yes, email is dead. Long live email.

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