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Have run into several pseudo-debates today about the relative benefits of websites and e-mail. The answer is both.
Mitch Ratcliffe cites an argument between Mark Hurst, who argues that email is better than weblogs, and John Robb over at Userland who argues in favor of weblogs.
Meanwhile, John Robb cites Ray Ozzie, who argues in an Infoworld interview that people ignore collaboration tools and portals because they aren’t as “natural” as phone, fax, and e-mail.
“Natural” has nothing to do with it. Right tool for the job has everything to do with it.
When you’re trying to reach another human immediately, you phone, fax, email (or IM). Why waste time browsing a web site when you just want to talk to Ed?
But when you want to talk to a person whom you haven’t spoken in a while, you probably look up their website first. You don’t call Ed and ask, “Ed, are you still working as Director of the Do-Gooders Coalition?” You look up the Do-Gooders’ coalition website first, and when you talk to Ed, you congratulate him on the success of their recent fundraiser.
Ratcliffe is respectful about Hurst’s advocacy of push email vs. pull websites but with all due respect, I think the point is ridiculous. Email is wonderful AND you don’t want all of the information in the universe piling up in your email box! Some things are important enough to deserve regular attention, and you want to receive them by email. Other things are interesting, but can wait till you go fetch them.
The tools work best together.

  • Email can be used for discussion and for immediate call to action.
  • Weblogs are good for keeping in touch on a daily basis
  • Websites can be used to support research and follow-up collaboration.
  • Both. And.

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