"All of this has led me to believe that something is terribly wrong with e-mail. What’s more, I don’t believe it can be fixed."
July 11, 2012
· Posted by Greg Lloyd
"All of this has led me to believe that something is terribly wrong with e-mail. What’s more, I don’t believe it can be fixed," writes New York Times columnist Nick Bilton - not pictured on right - in his July 8, 2012 Bits column, Disruptions: Life's Too Short for So Much Email. He's cranky just because he received 6,000 emails this month, not including spam and daily deals. Nick says: "With all those messages, I have no desire to respond to even a fraction of them. I can just picture my tombstone: Here lies Nick Bilton, who responded to thousands of e-mails a month. May he rest in peace."
Nick continues: "Last year, Royal Pingdom, which monitors Internet usage, said that in 2010, 107 trillion e-mails were sent. A report this year from the Radicati Group, a market research firm, found that in 2011, there were 3.1 billion active e-mail accounts in the world. The report noted that, on average, corporate employees sent and received 105 e-mails a day. Sure, some of those e-mails are important. But 105 a day?" Please read his entire column for a lively piece of Nick's mind on the subject.
Email is OK for incoming introductions and disposible notifications, but when you try to use email for collaboration, multiple To: addresses turn it into something like the stateroom scene in the Marx Brothers A Night at the Opera.
Add the Cc: line and give up all hope! In 2008 Google engineer Kevin Marks referred to email as a "strange legacy idea" for the younger generation. I call it tragicomically inept for collaboration.
In 2003 Clay Shirky said: "All enterprises have more knowledge in their employees as a group than any one person, even (especially?) the CEO. The worst case is where one person has a problem and another knows a solution, but neither knows the other – or that the other knows. Despite e-mail’s advantages for communication, it falls down as a close collaboration tool on complex projects: E-mail makes it hard to keep everything related to a particular project in one place; e-mailed attachments can lead to version-control nightmares; and it’s almost impossible to get the Cc:line right. If the Cc:line is too broad, it creates “occupational spam” – messages from co-workers that don’t matter to everyone addressed. If the Cc:line is too narrow, the activity becomes opaque to management or partners."
From my 2008 blog post Email isn't dead - It's only sleeping
See Clay Shirky, Social Software: A New Generation of Tools by Clay Shirky, Release 1.0 Vol 21, No. 5, 20 May 2003 (pdf)
Caroline McCarthy, The future of Web apps will see the death of e-mail, CNet.com, Feb 29, 2008
Modern social software is now being widely adopted as an alterative to email collaboration, based on a pattern that Doug Engelbart recognized long ago, see Flip Test 1971 | Email versus Journal.
May I suggest Traction TeamPage?