John Gruber linked to this interview with David Allen a while back. I’m just getting to reading it now. Allen is the mind behind GTD (or “Getting Things Done”), which is something I don’t know much about. (I’m interested, though. I plan to pick up the book.)
Anyway, in the interview Allen says this:
One of the problems that’s endemic with the younger generation people who have grown up with computers and with email they make the assumption that email is a fine medium for communicating anything and everything.
Which, for some reason, provoked a really strong emotional reaction in me as I read it. “He’s wrong!” I thought, imaginary daggers in my eyes. “He’s wrong wrong wrong.”
Thankfully, commenter Joost laid it down before I had to:
Please. One of the problems that’s endemic with the older generation is that they make the assumption that email is only appropriate for communicating a small narrowly defined subset of human communication.
Why do we have e-mail?
When I first started work, I’d write long, detail-heavy e-mails to my co-workers. My rationale was that it was better to cover all the bases all at once than risk the finer points being missed. My e-mails were (at least in my opinion) well-written, friendly and easy to understand.
Unfortunately, nobody read them.
A lot of my issue was just that I overestimated the amount of time people have for reading e-mail. A lot of older people regard it primarily as a nuisance, and like to spend as little time reading (skimming, really) e-mail as possible. And that’s okay. That much makes sense to me.
What NEVER made sense to me was the people who picked up the phone or waited until they saw me to communicate a message. Or, instead of sending a response, booked a meeting to discuss what I had e-mailed. If that’s how work is going to get done, I thought, why even HAVE e-mail?
One of the really impressive things Generation Y does is communicate widespread messages effortlessly. If you’ve ever watched an event come together on facebook (or through another evite app) you know what I’m talking about. It’s simple: five minutes of work and a few clicks can result in a packed house the next night.
We trust that the app — the technology — is going to work. It’s going to effectively communicate the message.
The older generation seems to have trouble with this.