Derek Slater on Digital Natives and Email

Derek Slater notices, as others have, that Digital Natives only use email for “formal” activities, liking corresponding with adults and turning in homework.  Informal interaction is through internal communications mechanisms in Facebook or MySpace or on IM.  I wonder if it’s push (e-mail is less useful than it once was, plagued by spam and so forth) or pull (the other applications are better, faster, more convenient) or a combination.  Great insight, in any event.

3 thoughts on “Derek Slater on Digital Natives and Email

  1. So is it that I am not a Digital Native, or that so far I only have “formal” electronic interactions? Sadly, I suspect that both are true. 😉

    Joking aside, it is an interesting point. I am sure there is a parallel to the intimacy-level dependent heirarchical forms of verbal communication.


  2. I don’t think it’s push or pull, but rather just the availability of choice causing “digital natives” to refine their communications over the web. With such a wide spectrum of communication media available to us, it only makes sense that certain forms eventually become more “formal”.

    Email is to us what writing a letter was to the last generation–something that takes time and effort and is usually used for business or formal, *long*, correspondences. Why? Probably for a variety of reasons:
    1) It’s been around longer, so adults use it more. Which leads it to seem more formal.
    2) It tends to be more long-winded than IM or Facebook just because of the format, which means that there’s some kind of pressure to fill up the space with important content or just long sentences.
    3) I know there’ll be a lot of “back in the day” griping after this comment, but email has too long of a time lag! People don’t respond to email for days, probably because of #2, and that’s much too slow for coordinating things.

    Hope that clarifies things from a “digital native” perspective!

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