My friend Helena is a smart person but by no means a tech whiz. To her a computer is just something she uses to get work done and stay in touch with people. I met her when we were both interning at E-Trade about seven years ago in California. She was on the business side and I was on the tech side. After our stints were over she went back to Sweden and I went to New York.
Over the years and through a litany of e-mail address changes we barely managed to stay in touch. While the first part of my day is often spent e-mailing people this is not the case for her. Often it took months to get a reply from her, which were all prefaced by her stating how sorry she was for not getting back sooner. E-mail to her is just not the best way to stay in touch. She uses other methods that work better for her to keep in contact with her many friends. One of those is Ringo which is a social network based around sharing photos. Now I have been part of social networks like Orkut but to me it was simply a fad which I never log into anymore. I never really saw the potential of such services until now. Not only has she shared her vacation photos with me, which can say a lot more than some words on a white background, but Ringo has all her contact info, so if she moves or changes e-mail addresses I am updated immediately.
To me e-mail is how I stay in touch with people. If I lose someone’s address, which I have done a couple of times in the past between crashed hard drives and new computers, I simply don’t talk to that person again. Same goes with telephone numbers. Perhaps in the light speed of Internet time I am just old fashion.
One bad thing I can say about all of this is that unlike phone and e-mail, these networks will tend to segregate people along service lines but they seem to be giving, at least my friends, what they want.
Other things I have noticed about my nontechnical friends
– they all use web mail or AOL though the AOL usage has been dropping recently
– they tend to send those annoying chain letters around
– Evite is their way to organize large get togethers