Has Email become counter-productive?
By chienr on Oct 02, 2007
Recently, I went to a technology conference in San Francisco, where I kept hearing about two recurring themes. One is that Email is counter-productive and interruptive—Email is dead. Another is that IT is the disabler of social networking (or any kind of new technology for that matter) in the enterprise. "The CIO's job is to say 'No'", said one of the attendees.
For a moment, I questioned myself if I'm at the wrong place with the wrong crowd. After all, I'm the Email guy in Sun IT. It felt awkward, but I wanted to understand what the perception and negativity were all about.
To a certain extent, I share their feelings. I get hundreds of Emails every day, and spend a significant portion of my day reading and writing Emails. As of this moment, I have 5407 messages in my INBOX (yes, I know it's a sin and I'm aware of GTD). With the exception of a few spam now and then, the vast majority of Emails I get contains information and knowledge I can use towards my job. If I didn't receive them in the form of Email I'd still be consuming them through other means, such as news feeds, discussion forums, documentation, IM and webpages, etc. Having them all served to me in one place, where I can read them and sort them, actually saves me time.
However, there is a few cases where I agree Email can be annoying. Spam, for example. Invitation to internal meeting (that's what calendar's for, you idiot). Notification about end of Email service outage (how redundantly useless is that). Request that carbon copies everyone to stop Cc'ing everyone. None of them have any value. If your INBOX has more noise than signal, I can see why you wish Email is dead.
That's a wrap for now. Gotta get back to work. I'll explore the other topics in future posts. Let me know in the comments how you feel about Email. No comments about spam please, let's save that subject for another day.