Interesting to read about South Korea’s move away from email… where are our students heading?
Copied from The Age Melbourne Australia
Michael Fitzpatrick, Guardian
February 28, 2008
Mobile texting is now outstripping the use of email among the young. Michael Fitzpatrick reports. The art of correspondence faces another rude shove towards oblivion: even email is under fire for being “too formal”.
Outside of work, SMS and instant messaging are fast becoming the writing tools of choice. Indeed, South Korea – that crystal ball of all our digital future – has even seen a report that many teenagers have stopped using email altogether.
“It’s for old people,” they say.
A poll of more than 2000 middle, high school and college students, taken recently in Seoul, revealed that more than two-thirds rarely or never use email.
Korea’s digital generation is way ahead of even the Japanese. Fifty per cent of South Koreans are signed up to their version of Facebook, called Cyworld, which took off almost a decade before other social networking sites around the world.
For most South Koreans, email is fit only for addressing the elderly, or for business and formal missives. Even those in their 30s, such as Dr Youngmi Kim, a professor at Edinburgh University, says she doesn’t use it much when she is communicating with fellow Koreans.
“I use my Cyworld mini homepage to communicate among Korean close friends,” she says. “(Cyworld) is faster and it can be used both for private and public use.”
It’s a global trend but more pronounced in South Korea, says Tomi Ahonen, a communications consultant and the co-author of a new book, Digital Korea. “Korean young adults put it so well. Email is simply outdated and not used between friends and colleagues. The only people you would use mobile email with are the older generation at work. Email? It’s so ’90s.”
According to the poll, mobile texting, instant messaging and the perception that email is “a lot of bother” are all contributing to the end of the email era. Other factors, say the report, are the difficulty of ascertaining if an email has arrived and the lack of immediate response. One young Korean said that texting felt like a ping-pong game and that email was more “like doing homework”.
Similar bugbears are driving email use down globally under the twin gods of ease and instant gratification, Ahonen says. “This phenomenon is not limited to South Korea. We are even seeing the first signs of it in the US – a country that is a leader in email and wireless email, and the laggard in mobile. “It started with the young abandoning email in favour of texting and since then the youth preference has spread and is now hitting the mainstream age groups.”