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Is email dead? TechLines debate pics

Yesterday those passionate about information technology gathered to listen to a debate about the future of email, with a panelist consisting of IBM and Research In Motion executives, as well as a futurologist and an anthropologist.

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1 of 13 Suzanne Tindal/ZDNet Australia

Before the debate, everyone was in raucous humour, laughing and throwing jibes at debate moderator ABC's James O'Loghlin, instead of taking in the circuit board-inspired set.

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2 of 13 Suzanne Tindal/ZDNet Australia

However, soon the debate was on. O'Loghlin was in great form. "Email used to be a great way to keep in touch with people you didn't quite want to talk to," he said. "Now that's Facebook".

Only 11 per cent of teens use email everyday, he said. "But just because the kids ain't doing it, doesn't mean it ain't happening." In the workplace, the panel agreed, email was very much alive and profuse.

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3 of 13 Suzanne Tindal/ZDNet Australia

IBM general manager, Lotus Software and WebSphere Portal, Alistair Rennie (centre) said that many people used email as a scapegoat for a constantly piling up workload. Part of this was the fact that email filtering wasn't up to scratch. "Our filters always lag behind where we need to be," he said. They need to be intelligent, telling you which emails to look at first, he believed.

He also said that we need guidelines for which interactions should be done with email, with social media and face to face.

Intel fellow and anthropologist Genevieve Bell (right) said that the best email system would re-engineer old-fashioned PAs and secretaries. "It's a highly specialised talent," she said. "We devolved it back to ourselves, and suddenly have this massive problem."

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4 of 13 Suzanne Tindal/ZDNet Australia

The panel talked about how email is invading our personal lives. Some people even answer emails on the toilet. "It used to be such a peaceful place," O'Loghlin said.

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5 of 13 Suzanne Tindal/ZDNet Australia

Research in Motion managing director Adele Beachley (right) said that email has in many ways become a legal record, which social media has not. Futurist Mark Pesce (left) said that this means that people are very careful about what they put in emails now.

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6 of 13 Suzanne Tindal/ZDNet Australia

The problem with email as it exists, according to Rennie (left), is that everyone's inbox is ultimately the same. He believed that the future of email would see an inbox more like a personal portal, customised to work for the individual.

"Us telling people the best way to collaborate is crazy," he said, adding that giving people the tools to experiment was the key.

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7 of 13 Georgie Kennedy/CBS Interactive

After the event, the panel and audience got together to drink and discuss.

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8 of 13 Georgie Kennedy/CBS Interactive

IT journalists Stilgherrian (left) and Josh Mehlman (centre) looked like they had a good time.

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9 of 13 Georgie Kennedy/CBS Interactive

Rennie was able to give some email words of wisdom.

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10 of 13 Georgie Kennedy/CBS Interactive

Pesce talks with the blokes.

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11 of 13 Georgie Kennedy/CBS Interactive

Bell grins.

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12 of 13 Georgie Kennedy/CBS Interactive

Beachley chatted with her public relations guru Antoinette Trovato (left) and Allure Media Technology publisher Seamus Byrne (centre).

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13 of 13 Georgie Kennedy/CBS Interactive

James O'Loghlin with CBS Interactive's Brian Haverty and IT journo Angus Kidman.

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