Email: Killer app of the internet?



While procrastinating from transcribing an interview with a student teacher for the IWB research, I watched an episode of The Agenda with Steve Paikin called “Socializing Online” on TVO. Among the guests on the show was Nancy Baym . I have cited Baym before in my own research, and have more recently revisited her work while reviewing email communication literature for Julie Kerekes on the electronic interlanguage pragmatics project research.

The focus of the discussion on the show was more on social networking cites like Facebook, but I thought it was interesting that Baym declared email the “killer app of the internet.” She was talking about how more people use email to develop relationships online than networking sites.

From personal experience, I would agree that this is true. I may reconnect with old friends, say from elementary school, through Facebook but our communication does revert to email to take it further. Not sure what the research evidence would say about this!

Baym also noted that that the email depends heavily on the context. So, if you are writing an email to request something, it would look more like a formal letter. And if you are writing an online article, it would look more like a written article, and so on. For the EILP project, we’ve been analysing the content and speech acts in professor-student email interactions, and have so far found some patterns that suggest that English language learners go about this in gendered and culturally distinct ways.

p.s. I find blogging with WordPress on Safari frustrating. I have to hand code html to get formatting that I want visually, but as soon as I edit the post in the visual tab, I lose formatting all over again. Grrr, as Joan might say.


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