WHAT IS THE FUTURE OF EMAIL?
(P1) Ray Tomlinson, the inventor of email, died last week at the age of 74. He chose the previously little-used @ symbol on a standard keyboard as the best way to join the username with the DESTINATION address. And he sent the message in 1971 that is REGARDED as the first real email.
(P2) Now that Ray is @ peace it seems a good time to consider email as an INESCAPABLE fact of modern life.
(P3) When that first message was sent it travelled between two large computers. The PC was not yet invented, MUCH LESS the smartphone, so PRACTICAL applications for the new messaging system would remain limited or nonexistent for the vast majority of people for another two decades or so.
(P4) But by 1989 a New York Times article on “electronic mail” was predicting a bright future.
(P5) “ADVOCATES of electronic mail CITE studies showing that it ENCOURAGES workers at different levels of a company to communicate informally, cutting through layers of corporate BUREAUCRACY.”
(P6) In the 1990s, PCs became more common and better connected. Many of the early internet service providers used email to build traffic.
(P7) It’s hard to believe now, but email was sexy.
(P8) By the end of the decade a small Canadian company called Research in Motion had produced a handheld device – the BlackBerry – that allowed you to send and receive emails at any time from anywhere. How cool was that?
(P9) For most people these days email, is just one of a number of services we use to stay connected.
(P10) Email is now officially old. Other technologies have come and gone, but it lives on.
(P11) In the tech world, they’ve been saying for years that email is dead. Teenagers never use it. For personal communications between friends and family it has been SUPERSEDED by social media and instant-messaging services like WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger.
(P12) In the workplace, new communications platforms such as Slack are being ADOPTED by companies looking for more SOPHISTICATED tools.
(P13) Don’t WRITE OFF email just yet, though. It still has a few real advantages. It has improved greatly over the years, with clean design and better functionality.
(P14) It remains the only truly open global communications system. That little @ symbol chosen 45 years ago means that once you have the right address you can send anyone a mail.
(P15) Email retains its STATUS as a universally accepted communication tool.
(P16) “I don’t think it’s going away,” Ray Tomlinson said. “Email is always going to have a place.”
If you found the passage difficult to read or had problems understanding specific words or idiomatic expressions, please discuss them with your tutor. The following discussion questions should be answered in your own words and with your own arguments.
- Briefly summarize the content of the article in your own words.
- How many different email accounts do you have?
- Do you use personal email a lot, or do you prefer other ways of communicating?
- Is email very important at your workplace?
- Do you like being very connected all the time, or is it too much sometimes?
EXPRESSIONS TO PRACTICE:
What do the following expressions mean? Practice using each expression in a sentence; extra points if you can use it in conversation.
- Much less
- Write off