But it also applies to the world of electronic messaging. When I first went online there were two forms of electronic messaging - email and chat. Email was network centric meaning you had to be on compuserve to exchange email with a compuserve member. Chat was largely a group experience although you could always go to a private chatroom.
Fifteen years later we've got a myriad of choices. Email is now completely interoperable and as a result it is the big kahuna (to use martin's words) but here are the other messaging systems I used yesterday:
Commenting on a blog
Leaving a message/comment on a social network
Sending sitemail on myspace
Hanging out on an irc channel
Posting a link with a comment for my wife on delicious
And those are just the ones I can remember.
Most people my age (45 last week) use email, instant messaging, and to some extent text messaging.
My kids mostly use sitemail, commenting, text messaging, and instant messaging.
Jason Calacanis wrote an interesting post yesterday about the explosion of site messaging. It's pretty clear to me that the messaging options are increasing at a more rapid pace these days than ever before.
Clearly generational factors are at work in this explosion of messaging options. Kids have different communications needs than adults.
And mobility is certainly a big factor in the popularity of texting.
But I think behavior, context, and convenience are the most significant factors in the explosion of messaging options.
People message in the manner that is most convenient and relevant to the message they want to deliver.
As a sender, I love the explosion of messaging options.
But as a recipient, I hate it.
I've got a ton of messaging systems to monitor these days.
I can forward all my email accounts (seven I think) to a single mailbox and I've been managing my email that way for a long time.
But I can't do that with text messages, instant messages, myspace sitemail, blog comments (I do get the comments on my blog via email), comments on my various social networks, irc discussions, and postings to delicious for me.
Feeds can be a tool to manage a lot of this. I've been waiting for myspace to offer rss feeds of myspace comments for a while. Maybe they don't want to lose all those page views to rss, but I doubt that's going to happen because only 9pcnt of all internet users even know what rss is right now.
Then of course there is the question of whether I even want all of my messages consolidated in one place. I think I do, but I am not sure if my email inbox is the pace I want them consolidated.
I've seen a number of startups working on this problem but have yet to see one with a solution that I think is on the money for a mass audience.
If you are working on a project in this area, please let us know.