Okay we can stop emailing now
February 8th, 2011 William Rice
Technological developments follow each other in rapid succession. But can we really stop emailing? Every day new discoveries are made and new communication tools become available.
Today’s world is completely different from five years ago. Indeed, from last year. It might at some times even feel different from last week. Why if we have all these great, new applications are we still using archaic solutions such as electronic mail, aka email? Why do old habits die so hard?
How old is email, anyway?
In fact, email is older than the World Wide Web. Although the exact date of birth of email is not completely clear, in 1965-1966 the first messages were exchanged between users of computer systems. We can say that today we still use, though it evolved in form and function, an application that is over 40 years old.
Data overload or information overload
The term “information overload” is often heard nowadays. And ever so often in relation to email. Actually, in relation to e-mail it would be more accurate to say data overload, when you are inundated with messages and files that are sent to you and everyone else. The ultimate example is, of course, ‘spam’, junk-mail often offering you proposals to become rich overnight.
Use and abuse of email
Email started as a way to quickly be able to exchange messages, and has fulfilled this role extremely well over the last forty years. What is email actually used for today or how is it abused? Additional, unintended, uses of an email system have developed over the years. This is some of the things people do, besides emailing:
- Archive, storage
- Document management, including versioning
- Social purposes (chit-chat, jokes)
- Discussions (shifting responsibilities, delegating responsibility, passing-the-buck)
Alternative solutions for these use can be found in:
- Enterprise Content Management Systems
- Inter-and intranet forums or communities
- Instant messaging and microblogging
- Task and workflow management systems (web, portals)
- Collaborative tooling (like wikis)
- 8 and… personal contact!
How do we start?
How do we start making the change? How do we end this now familiar habit? Just start by turning off your email. Tip: there is a red ‘x’ in the top right corner, use it. That’s why it is there.
You don’t have to go cold turkey. Just limit your email intake to a few times a day.
Do not send attachments. Instead, upload to the platform that is available to you. Most companies will have an Enterprise Content Management environment by now, or else you’ll find plenty of solutions on the web.
Do not start or engage in lengthy discussions via email. Certainly don’t put everyone in cc. Start a forum or community discussion if you would like to get an answer to something.
Want to speak to someone? Find him or her, call or IM. Don’t send an email to the person who’s sitting at the desk across from you.
The trend is clear: e-mail is no longer seen as a productivity tool, but as an obstacle. The causes are the ever-growing amount of spam, the widespread adoption of other forms of communication and collaboration and the inability of people to effectively deal with emails.
Before email kills us, I say: Death to Email! It is possible, we just need to bring ourselves to say farewell.
Checkout the full press release
Categories: CIO Agenda