Communication devices exist in a variety of forms and will continue to grow in number as we continue in this new millenium. Phones have one of the most extensive histories, dating back longer than nearly any other electric communication device -- with the exception of the telegraph. Their inventor, Alexander Graham Bell, created the telephone in 1876. Email popped up nearly a century later, beginning with MIT's "Mailbox" in 1965. Both offer distinct advantages, depending upon the situation.
Phones are Instantaneous
Regarding direct communication, phones hold the top spot, as compared to email. They allow person-to-person voice transmission. Today's phones are near instantaneous anywhere around the world, allowing conversations to take place in real time. Email, on the other hand, operates via the Internet. Like a digital version of traditional mail, emails are sent to inboxes -- often taking a few minutes for transmission -- where they wait to be opened by the recipient.
Phones are More Personal
The more input the recipient receives, the more personal and well-understood the sender will be. While emails just transmit words -- that can easily be misunderstood, with regards to their ton ---- phones transmit words and tone, allowing the recipient to get a much more thorough understanding of the message. This can be especially critical on important or sensitive issues.
Try typing a long phone conversation and see how well your fingers keep up. Due to the verbal nature of transmissions, far more information can be transmitted via phone than email. This limiting-length factor tremendously inhibits emails' usefulness.
Email is not without its advantages when contrasted with telephone technology. Many messages -- especially extremely short ones -- are not practical when turned into a telephone call; many people use email for very short updates. As emails require typing, they also require more thought on input on the part of the sender, allowing messages to be specifically tailored; emails can also be saved in a permanent archive.
Emails are not only used for communication, but they also serve as a means of subscription to things, such as RSS feeds and blogs, allowing them to be a source of incoming information, much like a magazine or book. This type of service is impractical for phone transmission.
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