I miss E-mail

I miss E-mail
Image credits: Orin Zebest
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(3 votes)

I miss asynchronous conversation.

I miss the ability to have an actual thread of thought preserved in something less ephemeral than memory, or in some chat log somewhere on one of my systems’ hard drives.

I miss the ability to not be there if someone has an observation I’m interested in. I don’t want to have to observe in real time.

I miss email. If someone has something to say, is it that hard to write it in such a way that it can be understood clearly, with topics and explanations?

Ironically, I say this on a blog, whose sole medium is the constructed and preserved thought...which means it’s going to be missed by the very audience from whom I’d prefer asynchronous communication.

I say no.

I use Twitter, but not Facebook; my use of Twitter isn’t “normal,” I think, and it’s fairly inefficient.

I can make 140-character thoughtlines, I think, but they lack a core representation of my personality in them. While I recognize that the point is the message and not the messenger, often the messenger creates the message not as a set of words, but with the force of personality and intent.

The message is the thing. The messenger makes the message, and becomes part of it.

Twitter’s limitations on messages forces their very tight focus, which is a good thing – it’s an excellent training ground for learning how to focus what you say – but tight focus lacks conviction.

I miss the chance to see that conviction.

There’s social commentary here, too, even if I don’t know how to frame it well. Recently, I had an email exchange with someone, and he complained that I had taken too much time to explain my position on something, that I clearly wasn’t focused on my responsibilities if I had time to explain myself in detail.

I was horrified and amused – the dismissiveness was funny, really, but the intent behind it was not so good.

I still don’t know if what he meant was that my reasons were specious, or that he had no interest in reasonings. (It’s my personal feeling that convictions establish the meaning behind what people think; I can accept the silliest concepts from people who have reasons to hold them, even if I don’t agree with them.)

I miss email.

A lot.

Originally published on enigmastation.com and re-posted with permission.

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pjones's picture
Open Minded

I don't miss email at all. #noemail since June 1, 2011 and still doing better things in better ways

jottinge's picture
Open Minded

Paul, fair enough! There's really no problem with that - there's room for all kinds. For me, though, I don't like the inability to develop longer thought lines. I like the focus things like twitter provide, definitely, but once given the thesis that twitter forces upon us, I prefer to be able to work through it in detail.

jhibbets's picture

For our readers that may have missed this, Paul is doing it. See #noemail: Are technology's early adopters abandoning their email? and Eight weeks of #noemail (and the results are in).

Personally, I've noticed I'm not as dependant on my personal email any more. I check my "home" email once, maybe twice a day. I'm always on my work email. But really the fastest way to get a hold of me is usually by Twitter or SMS, then Facebook. Mostly, because it's on my hip wherever I go.


dragonbite's picture
Open Minded

I need email because if I just spout out quickly I end up with a lot of "wha?" type responses, or people not understanding me. Even taking time to look over what I write in an email doesn't guarantee my meaning is successfully conveyed.

It is also helpful being able to take time and read what somebody else has sent me. Sometimes their meaning comes clearer as I mull it over and my actual response is very different than my initial response.

shawnhcorey's picture
Open Minded

I don't miss email; I insist on it. I program computers and when I'm working, I don't want to be interrupted. So, unless the building's on fire, send an email.

Don't stop where the ink does.

Graham's picture

Email is as much of a thief of time and resources as you allow it to be. Twitter and other social media is fine just as long as you're only dealing in trivial subjects (like what your cat just ate). For something that needs due consideration or thought, email is the only viable medium.

Spaceman Spiff's picture

There a time for everything. Sometimes I prefer email. Sometimes I prefer IM. Sometimes I prefer posting to a Faceboot "wall". Twitter? Not so much. SMS? If it were free, then maybe. I used to use it to communicate with family around the globe, but rates are out of hand now, so no to that also. Free Skype? Used to use it extensively, but now that MS owns it? We'll see. All in all, I still prefer email.

rolandw's picture

I have a client who only reads email (c 2,000 messages a month). But he only reads email of less than about 200 characters. To get him to read more than 200 characters in your message you have to be a lawyer. So why bother with email? Because he has a permanent trail.

I hate one line emails - especially the email that contains a single word "Fine" or "OK". Another waste of time - doubly more so when it's a reply to one of my emails containing 2 or more questions/requests. I'd have done better to have sent a set of IM's but unless the thread was synchronous I'd have been hosed there too!

I have a cell phone that does not distinguish between SMS messages, jabber messages, Skype messages or Twitter DM's. I just get a message. None are strictly private. I just get a message. I archive everyone. (Before you ask, it's an open source phone that isn't from Google).

I write internal blog posts to my team about projects. I then email everyone involved to tell them to read it...

What I'm saying is, "horses for courses".

What I'm also saying is "archive the lot before someone uses your messages against you".