That’s what Steve Gillmor at TechCrunch is hypothesizing, at least:
Today email serves as a notification service for social. I get social notifications both via push on mobile and email as an archive. The more efficient push gets, the more email becomes a redundant service. On iOS devices, I am now using push alerts to get to email more frequently than opening the mail client itself. I see the alerts flow through on the tablet or phone without having to log in, and use my security code only on items I have particular interest in. Swiping a missed phone call notification saves even more time, automatically calling the number back. These more efficient, actionable gestures are the new normal.
Our kids already understand that email is fading. They model the world on Facebook, tracking invites in their message stream or as event invites. At a glance they see who’s coming, who’s not, and why not. A calendar invite carries none of that context unless you go to a web page, which for those too young to remember is an early form of social media. Foursquare tells you you’re late or on time based on who you know showing up or not. GPS is people.
So this is definitely an interesting argument, but he’s kind of ignoring the absolute ubiquity and arch flexibility of e-mail as a social tool. The thing about Twitter is while it’s a great service, not everyone has it-the service has roughly one hundred million users, which is (obviously) a lot of people, but not nearly as many people who use email. Additionally, email way, way, way more versatile than the five different things Gillmor advocates replacing it with. For example, I basically use my gmail “Drafts” folder as an external hard drive for my life, cloud computing before people ever thought up the phrase “cloud computing.”
This reminds me of a professor at my old school who decided he didn’t want to use e-mail anymore and told his students they’d have to message him on Facebook or Xbox Live if they had a question. He was kind of crazy, but I guess he had a point?