When I was your age, guys running on foot were instant messaging

Kids say e-mail is, like, soooo dead | CNET News.com

While this article makes it sound like the industry is falling over itself to understand why a generation eschews e-mail, I think it makes perfect sense. Recall the thrilling days of yesteryear when having ubiquitous terminal access to a VAX was a luxury, and compare that with the even more ubiquitous cell-phone, and you can see why kids are choosing SMS and MySpace over traditional e-mail. When I was in college, everyone used the VAX to send e-mail to each other. The terminals and PCs strewn around campus all were a gateway to the VAX machine, and one could check in to see if they had new mail, or chat with people online. The VAX was the social network of the era (and it was real-time, too). Fast forward to today, and notice how many people have a cellphone of some form. They're practically everywhere, so why wouldn't teenagers take advantage of SMS to communicate with each other? Its also (wait for it) practically real-time as well. Add to that the spotty support for traditional e-mail and IM clients, and you have an arena where SMS rules over both IM and e-mail. Also on traditional e-mail, you have to know not only the account name of the recipient, but also what provider they're currently with. Since people change between cable, DSL, and dialup pretty often, addressbooks can quickly go out of date. Webmail services like Google Mail, Yahoo Mail, and that warmed over Microsoft abomination have made the e-mail address a little more permanent, but unless you're willing to set up your own domain name, or stick with an internet service provider for over 10 years, you'll likely have to change your address pretty frequently. With number portability, you can be guaranteed to be able to keep in contact with your circle of friends for as long as the number or the relationship lasts. Is it any wonder that teens are generating large SMS bills? Heck, if someone charged for e-mail, I would have racked up large e-mail bills as well. (When running a BBS, I racked up enough bills trying to maintain a network with a BBS in Ohio. Ahh, the joys of 2400 baud networking with Atari BBSes). Rather than lamenting the death of e-mail, lets welcome the ubiquity of SMS, and the network that people are creating. Lets also work towards making all of these networks talk together, and build communication rails that allow something that our next generation of hackers can use to communicate to each other.


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