There's a lot of talk about email in the media lately. With the huge uptake of social media sites and in particular I suppose the 'status update' paradigm I've noticed a lot of arguments espousing that the humble email is something of a technological dinosaur. I disagree, and I'll tell you why: It basically boils down to the fractious nature of competing businesses. Facebook, twitter and [your favourite social site] all compete. They have a significant overlap and increasingly interact with each other by cross-publishing and APIs but they still require that two individuals share a common platform. None of my friends on Facebook can contact me via the site as I do not have an account.
It's a lack of standardisation and while there have been initiatives to set up a common and sharable identifier for users between sites there has been insufficient take up due to lack of interest or lack of incentive for sites to climb aboard.
Email has this standard approach and rapidly became ubiquitous to ISP services (and of course web-hosted mail such as hotmail or gmail). We all have email accounts and indeed need them to set up social network accounts. So email is far from redundant.
There has been a shift to using these newer platforms for shorter messages, especially with the proliferation of web-capable cellphones. But this highlights my second point:
I still love receiving and composing long, thoughtful e-letters. Especially for friends that are long distance or low contact. So there's something to be said for the contemplative and verbose format that we so rarely employ anymore.