Is email outdated? Enter the discussion group
Many of you are familiar with my antipathy to voicemail (not so much the quick messages from people I know, but the lengthy ones from people I don’t about something that requires a lot of explaining and a lot of writing and, typically, a lot of follow-up phone calls and messages). Email provides a handy solution in situations like these since a written message can be a one-stop shop of information about both topic and sender.
But sometimes you can have too much of a good thing. (Like the time I polished off a theater-sized box of M&Ms as a nine -year old and subsequently couldn’t stomach anything sweet for days.)
When it comes to discussions — versus simply providing information — email, too, can get pretty cumbersome. I know that when I see people start to weigh in on a message, I … wait until the end of the day to weigh. I sort the messages by subject, respond to the latest message in the thread and delete all the earlier ones (sometimes unopened, depending on the topic).
And this is where discussion groups come in handy. Two popular discussion groups are Google Groups and Yahoo! Groups. Both are relatively easy to use (although everything takes a little getting used to). Ning has a few more bells and whistles — it’s sort of like a social network plus a discussion group. (And social networks themselves like Facebook and LinkedIn do have discussion functions.) Of course, Twitter is the venue du jour for many discussions as well: yesterday I attended the first meeting of the Digital Publishing Group organized by Daily Lit. You can see some of the commentary at #digpub.
As a book publicist dealing with authors and journalists, I can see the value of email — and I certainly don’t envision myself *not* using it — but for my sake (and for the sake of anyone with whom I might interact), I’m going to try to make more use of discussion groups. What is your favored platform for a discussion group? And what do you use it for?