Why Email Works Less Well Now
And What to Do About It
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At the risk of agreeing with the boss, I found Josh Kahn's blog post on email compelling. Admittedly, this is something I have been talking about for a while, so perhaps I can weigh in here.
Email is what I call a Primary Application (PA), by which I mean one of the first apps which was developed after the creation of the IT industry. Almost without exception, all PAs automate some process which is now legacy. For example, word processing automated typing. Spreadsheets automated green-bar ledger accounting, and so forth. Email automated snail mail.
PAs share one thing in common: Since they were created in an environment in which the capabilities of IT were not yet fully realized, they always take poor advantage of computing, and end up often being more of a nuisance than a help. Email is certainly one of these.
I think that EMC wants us to do much less email, and much more social networking, in exactly the manner that Josh indicates. By pushing our communication to social networking instead of email, it becomes more reusable. Intelligence which is lost in an email distribution thread is preserved in an online, searchable format. Privacy concerns can be easily addressed by using a private community.
The other intangible is the ability to listen in and participate in conversations which otherwise would simply be missed. There are more interesting things on twitter now for me at least than there are on email. That's for sure!
Not that we will ever fully escape from the snare of email. But as Josh say, we can develop filters and strategies to make email less a burden. But long term the strategy is clear: Push email conversations to social networking.
I am constantly performing the following maneuver:
What am I doing here? I am saying to the person who sent the email:
I will admit, it doesn't always work. But it takes very little additional time, and at least my answer ends up in a more useful context.
Thoughts on this strategy?