For some reason, the chat paradigm has become overly popular. Internet relay chat (IRC) was interesting in the mid-90s as a way to communicate in an informal, unstructured sense. However, I can’t believe it’s still so popular. Then we have Hipchat, Slack and others. What’s the deal?
What is the utility of an endless scroll of mixed up and confused, uncollated, blended conversations with no good way to determine their topics or context?
Maybe it is the valid rebellion against email. I thought for a while that email had reached the end of its usefulness. However, in my own personal quest for a substitute, I’ve reluctantly come to the conclusion that email is the only workable, reliable solution.
Granted phone text messages are how I normally communicate with my family. Beyond my immediate family, family and friends are all on Facebook. One or two people still seem to use Google+ and, of course, most Google employees.
Email has subjects, labels and excellent search. It accommodates messages of any length, including super short.
I do like the idea of minimal email and Google Inbox makes a valiant attempt but I expect it to be squashed any minute as is the end of all Google services, useful or not. Ultimately, the native, plain old Gmail is actually quite minimal when you really look at it. Each message in a conversation has the names of the people, a picture of the sender and the message. It looks like chat.
One personal change I’ve made quietly over the past few months is to drop all signatures including just signing my name on email messages. The truth is we still have a compulsion to write an email message like a letter or office memo, and not like a tweet or chat snippet. I’ll still write in complete, hopefully correct, sentences with correct spelling. When corresponding with someone I don’t often send email to, then I’m less familiar and will include my first name or full name and maybe even a signature if it’s a business message.