Your Inbox, Your Self

Sometimes, a plain old e-mail -- not a text, not a tweet, not Facebook update, not a Wave -- is the safest, most personal, most liberating way to go.
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You are how you communicate.

If you like having an instant focus group, a pulsating, by-the-second, rat-a-tat-tat burst of soundbites, wisecracks and tidbits, then Twitter is probably the best platform for you. (Text messaging, by extension, is a private one-on-one tweet. Or, in tweet-speak, a "DM," aka Direct Message.)

If you want a more closed-off, only-in-the-company-of-friends stream of information, then Facebook may be your best bet. (Not everyone on Facebook, for example, can see my photos.)

But if you care not a whit about Facebook or Twitter or the upcoming Google Wave -- if you prefer to not let the let the quickening rhythm of digital communication dictate your behavior and take over your life -- then stick to plain old e-mail. You read it when you want, you reply when you can, no sweat.

This suggestion may come as a surprise, being that I'm the Technology and Innovations Editor here at HuffPost. I'm suppose to advocate for what's hot, what's cutting-edge, the latest "it" thing. And I do. For the record, I cannot wait for Google Wave. I religiously check my Facebook page (what, no new wall post?) and find myself increasingly addicted to Twitter (what, no one re-tweeted my shameless plug?). But putting aside all these exciting technological changes, it's important to keep in mind that, more than ever before, information does not control you. You have choices. In other words, pick the platform that works best for you, tech writers be damned.

I write this in response to two recent articles -- the first in the weekly magazine New Scientist and the second in the Wall Street Journal -- that, taken together, point to a radical transformation in virtual communication. They're worth reading. The Journal article argues that e-mail's "reign" nears its end. "In its place, a new generation of services is starting to take hold -- services like Twitter and Facebook and countless others vying for a piece of the new world," writes The Journal's Jessica E. Vascellaro. Over at the New Scientist, Tom Simonite explores the psychology behind Google Wave and how it can further informalize how we communicate online. On Google Wave, you can replay what others write in real-time, which means your stream of consciousness is more transparent than ever.

For many, this may just be the next wave (excuse the pun) in e-mail communication -- e-mail 2.0. "A hosted conversation," as a Google product manager calls it. Others may think it's way too much information -- digital TMI. I don't want my friends to know exactly what I'm typing in real-time, just in case I accidentally type something that gets me in trouble. Some things, after all, are better left to myself.

Because sometimes a plain old e-mail -- not a text, not a tweet, not Facebook update, not a Wave -- is the safest, most personal, most liberating way to go.

How do you communicate? You prefer Twitter over Facebook? Texting over e-mailing? Share your comments below.

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