In defense of email

razorwireWhile I’ve been an enthusiastic adopter of social platforms I’ve never once felt the need to ditch my old and trustworthy friend Mr. Email. Sure, I’ve been down on email before as I wrote here, but I’ve never called for its end as discussed on this article.

The comments on that post highlight some valid reasons that email is not going away anytime soon but the fact that ‘everyone uses it’ is not what keeps me wired into my inbox. In fact most people I communicate with regularly have social profiles, mobile devices and various other means of communication that we all use regularly. Even interchangeably.

Even with my closest colleagues on a typical day we will communicate using some or all of the following methods; telephone, instant messaging, desktop sharing, micro-blogs, task management system, blogs, wikis and of course email.

Still King of the Hill

No, the main reason I still use email is that I simply haven’t found anything else that fills that space. In fact, I would argue that email isn’t social and that’s why nothing has been developed to replace it and why no social media platform signals the death knell for it. Email is private. It can be open, but that’s a conscious choice in the same way that a private direct message on twitter is a conscious break from the intended use of the platform. It’s nature is every else’s exception.

Email is not a stream that you dip in and out of as you please, it’s a point-to-point communication method. Emails don’t disappear off the bottom of the stream to be forgotten about forever, they sit and wait until they have been dealt with. Whether that is through deletion or being opened and read is a choice made by the recipient and no one else. Email is a taskmaster. Literally.

Email is my canvas

But for me, the most valuable aspect of email is it allows me to think. My preferred learning style is reading and writing. Often when an idea hits me it’s impossible for me to explain to someone else exactly what it is straight away. I still feel that moment of excitement that I simply must communicate to anyone who is interested. If the idea is related to the current project I’m working on then the only people that need to hear it are those associated with the project.

Composing an email, for me, is the only way to really understand the thoughts that are flying around my head. To put enough words down, in my own time, that allows me to explain it to a colleague. If I can explain it in a single email, with a small number of clarifications, then I know I’m on to something.


Tags: , ,

Categories: Information Technology

Author:Craig J Willis

Craig Willis is a co-founder at, a project setup to develop simple visual tools for helping teams work together more efficiently. The project is focused on improving the way agile development teams reach a common understanding on product requirements. He currently advises several startups on growth strategy, social media marketing and product development. He blogs at

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One Comment on “In defense of email”

  1. July 4, 2013 at 10:58 pm #


    E-mil is directly analogous to off-line distributed databases dialogue – perhaps not as strict as replication rule driven dissemination to role holders supported by triggers (as in SUP) but VERY convenient given such as embedded attachments, links etc

    Brian in Sweden
    Alias Sir George the Dragon Slayer
    Knighted in Canadian Dragons’ Den 2009

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