I heard a comment the other day, which I though somewhat dates me. The person was being asked if they used "e-mail" to which the response was, "Not really... It's kinda formal... Like sending your friend's parents a thank-you note." No surprise the response came from the younger generation.
Many years ago, I decided to create a Yahoo e-mail account just for things that I didn't want my "real e-mail address" from being bombarded with. I thought that I'd keep my "real" e-mail reserved for "real" friends and not solicitations from web sites. This worked well for a long time. My personal e-mail had all my personal communications and my "yahoo" e-mail had all my other stuff.
Over time though, my personal e-mail started to go down in size and my Yahoo e-mail started getting bigger. The funny thing is that the Yahoo growth wasn't really e-mail. It was notices telling me someone commented on my blog, or a response to my blog, or my friend just posted a picture of me on facebook, or a friend just posted something on my wall in facebook. It turned out that...
E-Mail was primarily just a pointer for me to use things that are replacing e-mail....
Why is that? I believe the answer to be "personalization" and "socialization". Is this not exactly what Marshall McLuhan was getting at with "The medium is the message"
In my working day, e-mail is probably the biggest "work" communication vehicle for me today. Easily in the 100's of emails a day. Notice, I view this as communication and not collaboration. No doubt I'm copied on things i don't need to be, invited to things I don't care about, but also a lot of important relevant e-mails too.
Perhaps social networks are ready for the enterprise? If it allows for more personal communication, that increases trust and openness... If it allows for informal communication... The opportunity to collaboration and the willingness to collaborate could benefit?
Still unsure how most big companies would see this though. I am certain first reaction is "waste of time"... Hmm.... What do they think of E-Mail?