Email is Dead! [Again]

Here we go again — yet another pronouncement of the death of email, this time by Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg (see video below). Allyson Kapin has an excellent response on Frogloop, and I’ll just note that way back in 2006 one of the first posts on dealt with predictions of email’s demise, a subject we’ve revisited time and again since (once with Chuck Norris!). Honestly I’ve run out of things to say on the subject, other than that email was the killer app in politics in 2006 and again in 2008, and I don’t see a whole lot of reasons it’s going to change fundamentally in 2010.

Besides noting that predicting the death of email is a sure-fire way to get media attention (particularly if you’re a company that might stand to benefit from such a development), I’ll just close with a cautionary tale for would-be futurists — if I remember correctly, online guru Seth Godin predicted the death of email advocacy within five years at the GetActive user conference…in 2005. Looking around from the vantage point of 2010, I don’t see a whole lot nonprofits and political campaigns ditching their email lists — in fact, I see plenty of people trying to grow them as fast as possible. Of course email will continue to see a gradual and RELATIVE decline, since so many other online channels now compete for our attention, but I find it hard to believe that we’re going to ditch such a near-ubiquitous and immensely practical tool any time soon. And you can quote me on that.


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Colin Delany
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  • […] If you’re an online organizer, your activist list is often your most precious possession outside of your website — its members are your supporters, your regular readers and frequently your source of precious cash. You’re likely to spend an enormous amount of effort building the list, and you SHOULD spend a lot of time thinking about how to maintain it. Traditionally, email has been the primary tool for keeping in touch with supporters, but as Facebook, Twitter et al become more prominent and email deliverability become more of a problem, email may find itself dethroned in the future. As of this writing, though, email is still by far the most widely used online supporter-contact tool — despite constant predictions of its imminent demise. […]