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I've never been a huge fan of email marketing and the fancy, HTML newsletters that are such a big part of it.

These are the emails you get that start off by saying "Having trouble viewing this email? View it on our website."

How many other advertising (or communications) formats start off this way?

Somehow, I don't think companies would be willing to invest in TV commercials if we said "This TV commercial is going to be great, but most people won't be able to view it right away - they'll have to push another button, or watch it on our website."

Yet these fancy HTML emails persist. They persist at the expense of wasted hours from talented designers and coders whose time could probably be spent creating something way more beautiful and useful.

For a time, my hosting provider (DreamHost) used to send out plain-text emails. They were very simply formatted. They could be read easily and quickly digested. One of these was even sent from an Apple store on one of the demo versions of the first iPhone.

And yes, I'm sure I could set up my email so that that it always displays images and I always see how great these emails are. But I don't. And I bet a lot of other people don't either.

What do you think about fancy, well-designed HTML emails? Worth it or not? Do you read them? Does your email tool display the images for you, or block them?





The Future of Our Communication

Even though I like to think of myself as fairly young and "with it" in terms of technological innovation, it is the generation after mine that will probably be driving technological change. They are the ones that have grown up with it, and this is evident by way of studies like the recent one that says kids think that e-mail is 'dead.'This comes as no surprise.

Similarly, textually has a great quote from MTV's Andrew Davidson where he says that for kids today, technology is essentially invisible. While my friends and I have been fairly quick to pick up on the latest tech trends, it's still very much visible to us. We are old enough (barely) to reminisce about what it was like before we all had cellphones, and we shake our heads in wonder at the 12 year old with a nicer phone than us.

The generation below us doesn't have that reference point. They've seen mobile technology used by their parents until they were old enough (a point that seems to be shifting to an increasingly lower age) to get their own.

From here, it's difficult to see how this will impact the future. There is the one idea that perhaps it will free them from seeing the phone primarily as a talking device, with a cell phone simply being the a mobile extension of the traditional rotary deal. Even the fact that we still call it a cell phone (when its primary purpose these days is for multimedia and the internet) shows how antiquated our thinking has become.

Before long, we will see far greater advancements in the field of mobile community and communications than anyone thought we would, and that this will be the direct result of today's youth having a lack of social and historical context about a world without cell phones and the internet. (I mean, they can even get wireless in Nigeria these days it seems.)

The other huge change is going to come in the form of virtual relationships. On the same post on textually, it says that the average Chinese computer user has 37 online friends that they have never met. Think about that. How many contacts do you have on your MSN contact list? how about Facebook? And how many of those have you never met in meatspace?

Bloggers probably have more friends like that than the average person, but I probably still only have about 5 friends on my Facebook that I have never met, and none on MSN.

I find that fact that this number comes out of China even more interesting. As we continually here, China is on the cusp of something great (if it can clean up its act...). Does that mean that the world's new superpower will be built on virtual relationships? How will this affect politics? How will this change a nation's concept of borders?

Ladies and gentlemen, I'd say that we are in for a very interesting next twenty years.