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It is better
to not be on
the web than
to be on and
not know why

John Sumser

is more
it seems.
John Gall


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(September 18, 2003) - Not many people took us seriously when we said that email was dead. We're used to it. Not many people took us seriously when we said that the web would revolutionize the Human Capital marketplace in 1994.

Like the party-line system that preceded the installation of individual phone lines for each residence, email was a starting point, a way to get service in place and used. A party-line is a phone line shared by a neighborhood or apartment complex. You might remember the very funny scenes in old movies as an actor tried to whisper romantically while the nosy neighbor listened in.  Privacy and easy access are secondary concerns when the alternative is no access at all. Party lines were a great way to get started. (Many residential DSL systems are really party lines of a sort. Bandwidth is shared and effective service is a function of how few people in the neighborhood are on the same line.)

There are still laws on the books that define the priorities of conversations on a party line. They seem strangely anachronistic today. Back then, knowing the ins and  outs of party-line manners was nearly a survival skill. Regulations were required.

Email is a transitional technology, like the party-line. The recent disruptions caused by the SoBig virus concentrated on high volume emailers. Theoretically, the virus authors were trying to make a point about spammers and Microsoft. Unfortunately, large recruiters and newsletter publishers got slammed 'accidentally'. Refined versions of the virus, expected to arrive every other month or so, will damage the mail processes of increasingly small users.

While email will remain useful for some tasks, the standard practice of subscribing to news sources and reading them in your email will come under great pressure in the near future. This means that newsletters, like ours, and services, like job agents, will be increasingly in a battle for mind-share that is being won by spam and virus-generated email. Traffic development (read - sourcing) strategies that depend on email will become increasingly ineffective starting right now.

In the blogosphere, many people subscribe to blog updates using an XML syndication standard called RSS. In other words, there is a large group of blog readers who do not visit blogs to read them. Rather, they 'subscribe' to a newsfeed and read the material in a news-reader.

The very best way to stay abreast of RSS and related emerging standards for post-email web usage is by starting a blog. For our money, there's no better tool than Radio.

John Sumser


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