The gradual demise of voicemail and email: are our public institutions listening?

voicemail Didn’t you get my message?” parents ask. “No,” their children reply, “but I saw that you called.”

That’s from this NY Times story: You’ve Got Voice Mail, but Do You Care? “In an age of instant information gratification, the burden of having to dial in to a mailbox, enter a passcode and sit through “um’s” and “ah’s” from unwanted callers can seem too much to bear.”

Email? That’s so 1999 for the under-30 crowd. See Younger workers and the demise of e-mail.

I hope staff at our public institutions are making changes to accommodate this shift.


  1. John S. Thomas said:

    Interesting article Griff…

    I can say that in the corporate world, it is shifting a bit as well. Our company has brought in “Office Communicator” as a more secure platform than AOL Instant Messenger, and it is being used heavily.

    The problem that Fortune 100 companies face (like the one I work for) is that they need to comply with laws and regulations such as Sarbanes-Oxley, and that all communications and e-mail must be stored for perpetuity due to legal reasons. Complete fleets of servers and storage devices have been brought into the enterprise, just to facilitate and store every single instant message transmitted within the company. It seems big brother-ish, but the legal ramifications of Instant messaging communications to corporations is quite large…

    E-mail is still used to pass documents, schedule meetings, etc, but Instant messaging is used more often than phone calls and e-mails, especially for problem resolution and quick questions. It is also much easier to check status and see if someone is available via that tool.

    I can also say that in many ways, Email is definitely NOT dead, as I still get nearly 400+ per day at my workplace. It is overwhelming, and thank god for e-mail rules. Many do not get read, and I have a color coding system in place that tags mail specifically addressed to me in one color, and mail that I am copied on in a different color.

    We are still a long ways off from everyone in the company having a blackberry due to data security issues.

    Changes in technology are driving many things, but corporate america is sometimes slow to react, as to do so has legal and cost/benefit ramifications.

    I look forward to an active discussion on this. I love talking about technology and its impacts to the workplace.

    Good post Griff!

    April 11, 2009
  2. So far, in my 3 months on the job as a city council member neither email nor voicemail appear to be dead or even ill. I suppose most of those contacting me are not under 30, but the over 30 crowd seems quite fluent in both phone and email. I suspect elected officials and government will adapt (although probably more slowly than the private sector, if I had to bet) as technology changes, but it’s too soon to declare these technologies dead.

    April 11, 2009
  3. David Ludescher said:

    Griff: I don’t think public institutions should promote communications that are centered on the leisure class. The “new” methods of communication aren’t much help for public officials who have to consider everyone, not just those with access to new ways to say the same things.

    I still think that the best way to have better communications with public officials is to have less of it, not more. Rain is good for the garden; too much rain is bad. Northfield always seems to get too much political rain.

    April 13, 2009
  4. Griff Wigley said:

    John/Betsey, I didn’t use the word ‘dead’ in my blog post. “Gradual demise” and “shift” were my choices.

    So my question is, since very few citizens under the age of 30 use voicemail and email (and increasingly, older citizens, too), what is the City doing to address this?

    April 19, 2009
  5. David Ludescher said:

    Griff: I hope the answer to your question is, “Nothing”.

    April 19, 2009

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