First - no excuses for the silence, but sometimes work gets in the way of a good idea!
I was recently at a session on social networking with a couple of school kids who were talking about how they communicate with each other and with their networks.
On the whole, their preferred manner is through the network application (mySpace in their case) - notably if they knew their friends were online *now*. If not through the SocNet, then their next preferences were Instant Messenger or SMS (text). In fact, they commented that they used IM and SMS for private conversations; SMS for speed; and the SocNet for the public comments (more on this later).
They don't like email.
Yes, in fact they really don't like email.
Why not? Well, the only who they need to talk to who aren't on either their network or their IM buddy list are clearly not friends. They are parents, teachers, supervisors - authority figures of some kind, with whom they communicate through the 'legacy' communication systems of their elders choice. Email.
Remember the days of snail mail? Hand written or even machine addressed envelopes were fine, looked forward to, exciting. But when a window-faced envelope arrived, well, that meant the bank or the lawyer or, more likely, some bill for something. You dealt with window-faced envelopes reluctantly, as a necessity. This was authority encroaching on something that should be fun.
And that's how GenC sees email. Just like a window-faced envelope.....
Makes you wonder if long term, this might have an impact on how FaceBook sends out alerts. While email suits those tied to their inbox, if I live on IM and SMS, the alerts are going to dead air. Only when I join the workforce and my inbox rules my day, will those little alerts become a have instead of more hell.