90.9 WBUR - Boston's NPR news station
Top Stories:
PLEDGE NOW
Letters, E-Mail, Texts — What’s Next?

Letters are dead. E-mail outdated. Text messages so passé. What’s going on with how we communicate?

Texting (Steve Rhodes/Flickr)

(Steve Rhodes/Flickr)

Guests

David Gerzof, professor of media relations, social media and marketing at Emerson College. Founder and president of BIGfish, an integrated social media, PR, marketing, and social influence firm. (@davidgerzof)

Pete Pachal, tech editor at Mashable.com. (@petepachal)

Alex Hermacinski, 15-year-old freshman at Wellesley High School in Massachusetts. (@herma_crab)

Is Email As We Know It Dead?

Email use is declining as more users adopt social media platforms and real-time mobile-chat applications, according to our conversation on Wednesday.

The shift from email to newer forms of communication is the result of a consumer trend favoring real-time communication methods offered by applications like Twitter, SMS text messaging, WhatsApp and Kik.

“You see things like email — and even Facebook to some extent in terms of how it’s evolved — looking more like it’s five minutes ago, it’s 10 minutes ago,” Mashable tech editor Pete Pachal said in the interview with Tom Ashbrook. “It’s not what a lot of people demand in their communication all the time, and so they’re turning to these other, more specialized apps that serve that very specific need to communicate with people in real-time.”

Some mobile apps also lower the bar to activate and engage in conversation. Snapchat, a real-time photo-sharing app that self-destructs a message within seconds of it being received, enables a user to open and send a photo with a few simple hand gestures. The time between thought and message is reduced.

“I think mobile and instantaneous go hand in hand,” David Gerzof, professor of media relations at Boston’s Emerson College, said in the same interview with Ashbrook. “And when you’re thinking about email it does take a while to send and receive.”

The decline in email use also has economic roots. Many applications being used instead of email are free to download. The only cost the user incurs is measured in the form of data, which costs much less than the $0.20-per-text message some carriers charge.

“It’s really one of those things that’s a bit overpriced,” Pachal said. “If you look at what it actually costs the carriers to use and to implement SMS on their networks, it’s much less than what you’re actually paying for. And that’s a huge factor.”

But email isn’t the only platform to suffer. With the rise of mobile and chat-based apps, some young people have even abandoned Facebook, opting to use it only in certain cases.

Alex Hermacinski, a 15-year-old freshman at Wellesley High School, is one of those people. She joined On Point’s conversation and explained how she uses the platform:

I really only use Facebook for study groups. Say there’s 90 kids in my grade that have the same teacher — we’re all in one group so we can communicate, ask questions, and maybe share study guides.

That the next generation is leap-frogging some platforms may not be surprising; that often happens as new technologies are introduced and improved upon. But from a business perspective, the speed at which these platforms are being replaced is remarkable, Gerzoff said.

Perhaps the Facebook-Android event expected on Thursday will lend some additional insight into what the platform will do to address the emerging real-time communication trend.

 

Please follow our community rules when engaging in comment discussion on this site.
ONPOINT
TODAY
Oct 2, 2014
Kurds in Turkey look over the border with Syria toward the embattled town of Kobani. (David Takaki / Twitter)

ISIS and the battle for control of the Syrian town of Kobani. The Kurds have it. ISIS wants it. The US is bombing. We’ll look at the lessons of the battle for Kobani.

Oct 2, 2014
Duluth, Minnesota's Canal Park Lakewalk, shown here in 2005. (Jacob Norlund / Creative Commons)

What makes a good place to live in America today? We’ll talk with the people who size up our cities and towns.

RECENT
SHOWS
Oct 1, 2014
Actress Eva Longoria, center, Henry R. Munoz III, co-founder of the Latino Victory Project, left, and Rep. Joaquin Castro, D-Texas, are seated at an event launching The Latino Victory Project, a Latino political action committee, at the National Press Club in Washington, Monday, May 5, 2014. (AP)

Latino America. It is very large and growing very fast. How will it move the country?

 
Oct 1, 2014
Pro-democracy protesters hold umbrellas under heavy rain in a main street near the government headquarters in Hong Kong late Tuesday, Sept. 30, 2014. The protesters demanded that Hong Kong's top leader meet with them on Tuesday and threatened wider actions if he did not, after he said China would not budge in its decision to limit voting reforms in the Asian financial hub. (AP)

China, democracy and Hong Kong. They’re in the streets in Hong Kong with their “Umbrella Revolution.” What now?

On Point Blog
On Point Blog
Transcript: Taking A Close Look At America’s Police Force
Wednesday, Oct 1, 2014

A partial transcript of our panel conversation with experts on the modern American police force.

More »
Comment
 
Transcript: Peter Thiel Wants Us All To Go From ‘Zero To One’
Tuesday, Sep 30, 2014

Entrepreneur Peter Thiel on innovation, technological failure and humanity’s uncertain future.

More »
Comment
 
Transcript: Sexual Violence Under ISIS Control
Tuesday, Sep 30, 2014

A transcript from our September 25, 2014 conversation on the Islamic State and sexual violence.

More »
Comment