It really wasn’t that long ago that people didn’t have e-mail. Twenty years ago* Dephi was the first commercial on-line service to offer internet e-mail to it’s customers. I’m not saying some people didn’t have internet e-mail before that, I’m just stating this was a turning point even though it was still a while before other providers offered the same service. A few of you may have had e-mail before then, but if it was a commercial service, it was likely an island (people could only e-mail other subscribers of your service) and some larger universities started rolling it out for students around the same time.
At the time, it was where can I go to check my mail when I’m out of touch. On-line access from other places was an issue. Laptops were expensive and if you had one to take with you, you needed to tie up the phone line to use it. Dial-up was generally the only way to access the internet and if you went somewhere else where you didn’t have access, you couldn’t check your mail. Even if someone had a computer, it didn’t mean they had a modem and even if you brought your own, it didn’t mean they had a phone line near the computer.
Checking your e-mail and other messages is easy these days. You can do it on your phone, your computer, your tablet, our iPod and you can even check it on devices like your Kindle. You can probably do it on the whatever device you’re using to this…
These days, it’s an issue of how many places do I need to check my messages. E-mail (work, home, old accounts), text messages (home and/or work), Skype messages, Facebook and any other countless services you may have. Plus, every time you buy a device or get a new service someone gives you a new e-mail account (cable company, eBay, cell phone company, iPhone, iPad, smart phone, etc.). Your charge cards, banks, health insurance and more all have their own private messaging system that send you an e-mail to tell you that you have a message on their site, “your fill in the blank company has sent you a message, please log into your account to read it”. Those were just the practical sites, you’ve still got social networks (Facebook, MySpace, Google+, Twitter, FourSquare, etc.), photo sharing sites, YouTube, travel sites, dating sites, technical support sites or some sites related to some hobby you may have; odds are you don’t have all of those, but you probably have some.
Back to e-mail: Finding old e-mail is confusing sometimes. I know someone mentioned a book to me, but where?!? Did they e-mail me? Did they send me a Twitter message? Did they write it as a comment on that Facebook post when I was talking about books a few months ago? Did they mention the book when we were confirming plans for something else unrelated? It’s definitely the information overload age…
We’re more connected. But are we better connected?
This isn’t really the post I started to write, but where I was trying to go is such a big subject, I think it’s going to take multiple posts.