In the new Fast Company Alex Iskold arguesthat email is gradually being overtaken by more immediate and flexible forms of communication, such as Twitter and wikis. He further posits that the need for lengthy emails is decreasing while more frequent updates and memos are becoming more common. Given the ubiquity of email in business, it’s hard to see it disappearing anytime soon. But I agree with Iskold that new formats and tools are opening the door to a weakening in the hegemony of email, and I think these alternatives will become more popular as people begin to tailor their outreach to suit the situation. Email has many advantages, despite its overuse, but I’ve always found it to be a fairly blunt instrument. (On the other hand, I’m old enough to remember when we didn’t have email in the office, so I still see it as an incredible addition to the communication arsenal.) New tools like Twitter, IM, social networks (which allow group updates via text, photo or video) and collaboration tools like wiki allow users to be much more targeted and deliberate about what channel they use to communicate with colleagues or friends. Hopefully that will reduce the lazy overliance on email and increase its effectiveness.

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