Conversation Agent - Valeria Maltoni - Email is the New Offline

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@Jocelyn - I think it comes down to having a healthy balance of activities. I do prefer email when it comes to planning and connecting, taking things off the main stream on Twitter, for example. Phone calls have their place to truly catch up, and so have face to face meetings.

@Paul - many online conversations, aside from Twitter when all the people you're messaging are on at the same time, are asynchronous. There is some value to having or taking the time to reply, though.

@Angela - I get tons of phone calls, mostly sales pitches, in the office. So much so, that most of the time I cannot answer a known phone number or I won't be able to get anything else done. Phone conversations have a place in the relationship continuum, I agree. Connie and I have not had a chance to chat, yet. She's an example of a person I'd have no problem making time for.

@Ari - I'm using Skype a lot for international calls and chats. Imagine AT&T's surprise, right? In the end we do find the tools that fit the purpose. And yes, some people are not on any social network so email it is.

@Carolyn Ann - you're onto something about letter writing. I still send hand written cars, but letters are more rare and take longer to write. Another reason why I don't put pen to paper much is that I have the impression I think faster now and that hand writing would slow me down. To your social veneer comment I respond, it depends. Thankfully, I've had the opportunity to meet face to face or in person many of the people I became acquainted with online. That's good. I like your insight about validating an experience only through sharing... being photographed at an event makes you "seen". Your presence is documented, therefore you exist. Perhaps we're missing wisdom and maturity - it is all so new (tools). Another opportunity to reinvent ourselves? Is there a cost?

I often think email has replaced writing a letter. It's not a replacement for a phone call, but is just an another way to communicate.

The social web, I'm not so sure of. The online world seems to be a very disconnected place, a veneer - a plastic veneer - replacing actual interaction. It seems to be getting worse, too.

Twitter might be thought of as a social interaction, but it's not. Not really. It's a cursory contact, perhaps a stilted conversation - but that is not social interaction. Sometimes it seems that the only way to validate an experience is to "share" it, via the instant: your Blackberry and Twitter. You can dispense with contacts as easily as you make them; the standard isn't whether friends are valued, but how many you have. The pithy, the summary replaces thoughtfulness, and the elevator pitch develops meaning.

Perhaps the concept of "social" is changing? Instead of meeting people, it all happens at a distance, and electronic signals replace the handshake and the smile. We still gather - at sports events, at contemporary watering holes, and at other venues. We still value the personal, of being with people, more than we value being alone - but (I think) far too many eagerly seek an electronic tether.

There's a sadness there; I'm not going to think about that! People think the social web is advanced - it isn't. We're in an electronic preschool. But there aren't any teachers to help us figure it all out. It'll be messy once we make it to kindergarten.

Carolyn Ann

I've lately turned to Google Talk and Skype for those personal communications that Twitter doesn't serve for my purposes, and when emailing is too cumbersome.

The problem is when people only use email and aren't on any social media.

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