Thursday 11 December 2008

25 Reason’s Why Faceboook and Linkedin beat Email hands down

1. No Spam
2. No Spam filter
3. No storage issues
4. No mysterious blocked message issues
5. No backups necessary
6. Connect to friends and family ONLY
7. Connect to work colleagues and peers ONLY
8. No visible contact details to those who don’t need to know
9. Syncing with Outlook
10. Twitter style widgets for light hearted and serious updates
11. Log in anywhere
12. They’re free
13. No downloads needed so no compatibility issues
14. They work really well with iPhone and smartphones: work/life balance mail on the go!
15. Confidential messaging when necessary
16. Seamlessly mashes with Location Based Systems on smartphones
17. Linking and networking!
18. Your CV and History in your own words
19. Pictures and Tags (Flicr meets Ma.gno.lia)
20. Send documents, files and links with no spam filters
21. A few perfectly targeted, non-irritating and relevant ads
22. Blog link dissemination
23. File hosting (PowerPoint and Typepad so far)
24. Link to relevant industry groups
25. Smaller computer memory and less processing needed because it’s all online

There will always be email, for work communications, sending documents and keeping track of communications, but it is becoming less and less popular.

There are only so many people you can speak to in a day and more of this speaking is happing through online social networks like Facebook and Linkedin in. The Bebo generation take this for granted and they are right. The truth is that mail is being destroyed by spam as a work and social tool. It doesn’t matter how much storage you have, or whether your Gmail account will ever be deleted or not. If there is too much spam, it gets in the way. Even permissible communications can get routed in error to the Junk or Spam folders because there is a URL in the mail or a bad word or a picture or whatever. It is really irritating and happens all the time. (A wholly innocent holiday snap of son Dick riding in the Donkey Derby is unlikely to reach the recipient by email. How times have changed.)

Also, a big hassle when getting a new machine is transferring the mails over. It shouldn’t be, but it is, and legacy machines often lie around offices because they’ve got all those old mails on them. It can all be fixed with PST on the network, backups, transfers and the like, but for the small business person, or SME, it’s a serious inconvenience and requires some skill. Wizards rarely work first time and if you’re not techie enough to find a workaround, you’re stuffed! Social net communications have no such issues. These aren’t used for ‘serious’ communications at the moment, but I think it’s a no-brainer that they will be soon enough.

As machines get smaller and more mobile, or are ignored altogether in favour of iPhones and Blackberries, social nets will come into their own. The bigger machines (laptops and workstations) will be used for larger document typing, accounts, pictures, music and storage, rather than fulfilling the every minute of every day communications role they have done to date because once the phone syncs well with your machine, and everything is backed up, job done.

Also, as documents get bigger and the net gets slower or gridlocks altogether, (have you noticed the terrible 3pm slump in broadband speed when the US logs on?) social nets may become, of necessity, a realistic alternative for dependable net facilitated communication. It’s more technically efficient if everyone talks in the same location, rather than talks to each other where each has their own peculiar addresses and associated mail routers. We are all tied to a thing called bandwidth, and access to bandwidth, may become so valuable it could be seen as wealth, akin to money.

To get a big techie for a minute, as I see it, if people copy a typical mail with an attachment to several people the size of the mail is increased 100% with each copied person, so it impacts hugely on bandwidth available for everyone with large SMTP facilitated communications (SMTP is the email protocol). Senders are not only copying the same document to each other, they are also copying its format, pictures and loads of other information that isn’t used by each reader of the document. The doc in its most basic form is a text file after all. Very small indeed. However, if they send a doc to a shared webspace using FTP once (file transfer protocol) or better still HTTP (the same thing for webpages like blogs), rather than emailing several people, it is read with HTTP (hypertext transfer protocol) in a more spread out way or read and not copied or transferred with all its formatting to each user machine. It won’t clog up the bandwidth nearly as much. I’m pretty sure that’s how it should works. Techies among you feel free to correct me as I’m a day tripper in sys admin land and to be honest I haven’t even considered TCP/IP and Winsoc and all that malarkey since about 1996, so I’m sure to be a bit rusty L.

And finally there is that strange and mysterious ‘email blocked’ problem - the ultimate failure of the email system. And no it’s not my fault. No, the mailbox isn’t full. No, we’re not on a spam list. No, our Internet connection isn’t down because we can communicate through Facebook, Linked in and Gmail no problem. And yes, we get our mails from all our other clients… no problem. Mysterious, problematic, confusing and a total pain in the arse!

So, as Email fails Social Nets will win. Bring on the Nets!