A new report says that "member communities" -- sites like social networks and blogs -- are now more popular than email
. The Nielsen report says that two out of three internet users,
in the eight countries it tracks, visit social sites more than email sites
visit member communities, a higher percentage than use email. Though usage remains behind search, portal and PC software sites, the social-site usage is growing at a far faster pace than any of them. The methodology here is a bit odd, and the classifications of sites not immediately clear, but, if anything, the report underlines how users' online time, as well as their communication, is shifting towards social networks and, perhaps, away from email. This makes sense: as more and more people are spending more and more time inside social networks, it follows that they'll communicate within them, rather than outside them via email. Email still has tremendous value, but also brings plenty of problems, from spam to annoying reply-all
responses. As long as in-social-network communication can improve on this experience and offer benefits over email, its use will continue to grow. But that advantage can be fleeting, particularly as problems like spam move
to social networks. If social network-based communication becomes as polluted as email, it can't expect to hold its popularity for long.