Great Things About Computers #5: Email
Before we had email, the world was a different place entirely – but it is hard to think how different because it has become such an accepted part of life that we hardly remember what we did before we could send and receive email. Most of us will use it at least once a day, and many of us will have an email client open for most of the day for one reason or another. It helps us work and keep in contact with friends.
Before email, the quickest way to get in contact with someone was to call them on the phone. Largely, this depended on them actually being there to take the call because not everyone had voice mail. Email just about pre-empted text messaging in terms of mass use, and was the first form of instant communication not to depend on both sender and receiver being available at the same time.
Email also had the advantage over text messaging of not being limited to a certain number of characters. If you phone someone just to chat, one is always mindful of the phone bill and is thus likely to keep the conversation brief. No matter how long your email, it won’t cost you any extra – in fact, it won’t cost you anything on top of your Internet subscription.
Email really comes into its own in a business context. A lot of information can be included (like a written letter), and it can be sent instantly (like a phone call) and picked up whenever the receiver is available (like a text message), thus combining all of the important benefits of the other forms while having no major drawbacks. You can attach bulky files with it and check when it has been received and read. It has made a big difference in work and personal life.