If you didn’t believe there was a shift in communication patterns in 2010, I have some data for you. The New York Times Bits Blog posted Comscore’s analysis of communication patterns, copied below. Interestingly, we are viewing a true technology adoption lifecycle curve in real time. The youngest generations are the early adopters of communication mechanisms, the middle aged are the early and late majority and the elderly are the laggards. 

The 48% drop in time spent for 12 to 17 on email is staggering. Very few products lose half of their user base’s time in one year. The reasons for the shift have been discussed at length elsewhere. Social networks are faster, scale communication better, and provide rich context for conversations.

Most importantly, social networks provide the ability to unify communication mechanisms. Facebook has eliminated the subject box for messages. Now, a Facebook message is identical to an instant message, a text and an email (mostly), enabling seamless transition across mobile and internet communication. Let the social network decide which transport mechanism is the right one for this message given the time of day, the recipient’s phone status (silent) and the priority of the message. 

With video chat, both on the PC, phone and tablet imminent, the social network will become an intelligent traffic routing systems for all kinds of communication. Our youngest generation has already experienced the benefits of this abstraction, simplification and unification of several communication mechanisms.