At least one professor has exchanged his email account for social media when it comes to communicating with students. This seems like a logical decision, especially when you consider the sheer volume of people who are currently using social media to communicate. Most social media networks contain some sort of inter-email service, so staying in contact is easy when two people (or more) share the same network. Whether this move marks a trend toward more social media communication and less email remains to be seen. There are still hundreds of email users, so it’s not as if there is a huge migration away from the service. But the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. This may or may not be the shot heard ’round the world.
There are a number of ways to contact Paul Jones. You can chat with him via his blog, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and a host of other online tools. Email, however, is no longer one of them.
Jones, a clinical associate professor in the School of Information and Library Science and the School of Journalism and Mass Communication, told attendees at UNC’s BarCamp that he’s abandoned email — an antiquated application whose time is up, tech insiders say.
“I spent 30 years investing in email,” Jones said. “The undergrads I teach use everything but email. Journalists use Twitter. You can use anything else to get in touch with me — text messages, AIM, G-chat, Facebook, Facebook chat … but I was investing too much into email and getting little back.”
While Jones’ announcement shocked some friends and colleagues, particularly baby boomers, his transition to other communication platforms isn’t part of a new phenomenon. Slate and Wired magazines foretold the death of email in 2007 and 2009, respectively. Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg classified email as passe during a 2009 Nielsen Consumer 360 conference before launching into a pitch for her company’s ability to connect people across continents, interests and generations.
“In consumer technology, if you want to know what people like us will be doing tomorrow, you look at what teenagers are doing today,” Sandberg said, citing research findings that only 11 percent of U.S. teens use email daily.
People like Sandberg and Louis Suarez, one of Jones’ “Tweeps,” (the two connected via Twitter) are giving the public access to their Google calendars to eliminate back-and-forth emails about scheduling, relying on texts and tweets to communicate urgent messages, and collaborating on projects via Google Docs. Jones says these leaders are also video-chatting with friends via Skype and using Doodle, an online scheduling tool, to set up meetings.
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