Email is dead: Long live email!

According to a recent report from the McKinsey Global Institute, the average office worker spends 28 hours a week – or nearly 1500 hours a year – writing emails, searching for information and attempting to “collaborate” internally. The report argues that wide adoption of social media technologies by businesses could cut down some of the time-wasting involved in emailing and improve worker productivity by 20 to 25 per cent.

This is all great stuff, and will perhaps incentivise some CEO’s to consider implementing social technologies into their organisations. After all, the prospect of a 25 per cent productivity improvement where money is tight and competition is avaricious is not something to be dismissed lightly.

But am I the only sceptic that is prepared to challenge the “great myth” that email is the root cause of worker inefficiency and the blight of our 21st century lives? Perhaps this seems odd coming from someone who is an advocate for social technology as an enabler for more effective sharing and collaboration.

I would agree that social technology is the engine that is driving today’s knowledge ecology and that we’re only just starting to discover the opportunities that a far more connected society can deliver.  However, email is just as much a part of this as – say – Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Yammer, Sharepoint, or any number of Enterprise Social Software solutions. It’s not an “either/or” choice between email and social technology. Email has been the foundation for how business gets done for the past 30 years or so, and I’m willing to predict it will be around for the next 30 years or so. Used properly, it’s still one of the most effective ways of communicating.

What is email good for:

  1. Email arrives near instantaneously. It can be accessed from almost anywhere. It brings not just text, but pictures, documents, links, and more.
  2. Email is great for non-urgent communication. Things that don’t require an immediate response that others can deal with on their schedule.
  3. Email can provide a powerful documentation trail. Unlike text messages or phone calls, email provides an authenticated audit trail of past communication. It is hard to deny past actions and messages when there is a clear history.
  4. Email is one of the best mediums for communicating across time zones. It allows people on different schedules to communicate at their leisure.
  5. Message formatting features come as standard.
  6. The email client is a personal information management database. It can be browsed, sorted, filtered, tagged and searched. Features which I’ve yet to see implemented in most Enterprise Social Software activity streams.
  7. Email can be closely integrated with business workflows, where an action or decision is required.
  8. Email provides an (almost) foolproof 2-way authentication, hence why it is still used by nearly all online service providers to verify new accounts.

What is it not good for?

This post in not meant to be a heralding cry for more use of email; I just wanted to add some perspective and balance to what I see as a rather misguided campaign to replace email with social technologies. Email is not the best medium for sharing knowledge with a large number of people, nor is it a very good tool for collaborating on a document or a project plan. In fact, if your starting point is to encourage more fluid knowledge flows and wider engagement with your workforce, stakeholders and partners, then you really need to be looking at social technologies, such as blogs, forums, wikis, social bookmarking, integrated activity streams etc.

A blended approach to “social business’

I firmly believe that the best approach for improving productivity is a blend of social technology and email. Social technology can break down silo’d working practices, join-up thematic knowledge repositories and help to flatten hierarchies. Email would still be the foundation for how business gets done and how decisions are made. Integrating the two is the key to a successful business. Anyone who thinks that a business can survive by consensus decision-making delivered by social tools is sadly misguided. Using social tools to inform the decision-making process is the model that makes most sense.

Life without email?

I think I’ve made my opinion on this quite clear – it will be around for the foreseeable future, and will probably outlive many of today’s social media products. It’s not “either/or” it’s both, and they can co-exist. Which is why I found the Atos strategy somewhat disconcerting:

Thierry Breton, CEO of the French IT services company Atos, announced at the end of 2011 that his company will become “a zero e-mail company within three years.” His reason: the volume of e-mail that he and his employees have to deal with is unsustainable and harms the business. Breton estimates that managers spend between five and 20 hours a week reading and writing e-mails. On average, each of Atos’s 80,000 employees was receiving more than 100 e-mails per day, of which only 15 percent were deemed “useful.” By shifting communications to social platforms, François Gruau, senior vice president for business development and innovation, expects Atos staff to be “able to collaboratively process information with more focus, speed, and precision.”

Atos is counting on social technologies to improve collaboration and knowledge sharing. The company estimates that employees spend 25 percent of their time looking for information or expertise. So Atos is pushing employees to use a social community platform to share and keep track of ideas on subjects from innovation to sales. In the first few weeks after the initial announcement, these tools helped reduce e-mail volume by up to 20 percent.

There are so many issues with this statement that I don’t know where to start. It would be interesting to know how the “only 15% [of emails] were deemed useful” figure was derived. Presumably from the perspective of the receiver and not the sender.

Also, “….Atos is pushing employees to use a social community platform to share and keep track of ideas on subjects from innovation to sales”.  The statement might have sounded better if it was encouraging employees as opposed to pushing. In my experience, take-up of social community platforms is predicated on whether the user derives value from the platform, rather than from a dictum to use it.

It will be interesting to see how this strategy pans out over the next 2-3 years and whether they do achieve their goal of becoming a “zero email company”. If they succeed in their goal then I’ll be eating dollops of humble pie!

This may appear a paradox, but having made the case for email, I will conclude by saying that reducing reliance on it is probably the right strategy. I’ll clarify this further by stating that the root cause of wasted time is likely to be through misuse or poor use of email. In particular, the over-use of cc’s and bcc’s for mass-distribution. Features that were put there before the advent of social tools. Also the cascade of corporate/team/group newsletters, and anything “FYI”. Organisations that are deploying social platforms should prioritise these activities and behaviours as a means to reducing email volumes. One radical step might even be to remove the cc and bcc capability altogether.

Seven simple steps for reducing unnecessary email:

  1. Move all distribution lists that are not confidential to blogs (i.e. change the email address of the distribution list to post to an internal blog). People can subscribe and unsubscribe themselves thereby both reducing the need for an IT resource to do this and for individuals to manage the resulting emails.
  2. Give all project teams a closed group and encourage them to be more transparent, updating the group whenever they have accomplished something or need to ask a question.
  3. Turn off or discourage people from using cc or bcc features on email. Encourage anything that needs a cc to go into a social network blog or discussion board. Discourage bcc’s almost entirely.
  4. Disable or discourage emailing documents. They should all go into a shared space.
  5. Encourage people to answer questions that they receive through a blog post or Intranet forum. That way they only have to answer the question once and it is discoverable for others.
  6. Advertise and promote an “email-free” day, where no emails get answered. This may encourage workers not to send an email and to think of other alternatives. There may even be the option of actually talking to a colleague!
  7. Begin an education programme on email protocol. This should include:
  • Dealing with confidential information
  • Contact management
  • Personal information
  • Accepting email from external contacts
  • How to manage your inbox and folders

At the end of the day, it’s all about getting smarter with how we use and share information. The cost of managing this information today is mostly hidden. It’s the hours each of us spends reviewing, organising and deleting emails and the hours we spend answering the same questions over and over again. This waste is not really ‘seen’ by the organisation because it’s been absorbed primarily by individuals in their ‘free’ time.

Smart organisations will educate their staff and help them understand when to use email and when to use social technologies. Email is best for detailed exchanges, decision-making and information that require a high degree of accountability. Social tools are best suited for engagement, collaboration and knowledge sharing. All of this should ideally be embraced in the organisation’s social media policies and guidelines documentation.

Accomplishing all of the above will get people more comfortable with social software tools and dynamics and it will give them some relief from the information torrent.

The power of social

About Steve Dale

Stephen Dale is both an evangelist and practitioner in the use of Web 2.0 technologies and Social Media applications to support personal development and knowledge sharing. He has a deep understanding of how systems and technology can be used to support learning and facilitate smarter working, where connections and conversations are the key to self-development and creativity within the organisation.
This entry was posted in Information Management, Knowledge Management, Social Business, Social Media and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

23 Responses to Email is dead: Long live email!

  1. Conrad Taylor says:

    This is a good post, Steve. It would be good to take this forward as a programme for a face to face discussion meeting, such as at NetIKX.

    I am a strong believer in the value of ‘correspondence’ for sharing knowledge and opinion. Email is one way of doing that, but not the only way; it’s valuable to consider the alternatives such as social group messaging on a shared forum. Perhaps one of the reasons why email proliferates is that we come at it with a prior understanding of what letter-writing is about, whereas there are not such clear images for what one can do with various forms of social media (muddied further because there are those various forms…). Another problem is that if email is one way to message, and social forums another, and there is no correlation between the modes, then conversations become even more fragmented and even more difficult to follow, archive, track back through.

  2. Nick Milton says:

    I agree Steve.

    Email is great for private communication, and a good personal notification medium. It is not so good for public communication. I address some of this in my blog post “in praise of email as part of KM” – http://www.nickmilton.com/2011/10/in-praise-of-email-as-part-of-km.html

    The first thing that made me smile in your post was the “only 15 percent (of emails) were deemed useful” statement. That is probably still an order of magnitude or more greater than the “useful” percentage of my social media stream. I like your seven steps for reducing unnecessary email, and look forward to the seven steps for reducing unnecessary social media traffic.

    The second smile came when I drafted this reply, and needed to fill in my email details in order to open the Comment box.

  3. Steve Dale says:

    Conrad – thanks for the comment. The correlation between email and letter-writing is probably right. Which is perhaps why the “younger demographic” take more readily to social media, i.e. they haven’t got that legacy of letter-writing. They were brought up on short, sharp texts (or shld i say txts). Fragmentation is – for me – one of the biggest problems; so many channels with more being added almost weekly. That’s why I think there is such a growing market for aggregation and trending services (e.g. Bottlenose.com, Twylah etc.), which purport to help us make sense of the disaggregated channels. Not meant as a concillatory statement, but I think we’re still very much in the stone age when it comes to social media tools. Our children’s children will probably look back at all of this and laugh!

  4. Steve Dale says:

    Hi Nick,

    thanks for the feedback, and the link to your blog post. I missed this when it was first posted, but relieved to see we’re pretty much in synch. I agree with you on the 15% issue. I can’t lay my hands on it right now, but there was a report that stated over 74% of Twitter “conversations” were facile. My own experience of Facebook would indicate something approaching 90%!

    Yes – the irony of having to authenticate with email, mentioned in my post ;-)

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  6. Luis Suarez says:

    Hi Steve, EXCELLENT blog post with plenty of really accurate reflections on where we are with regards to email as a corporate tool to help improve knowledge sharing and collaboration. I think you pretty much hit the nail on the head with this particular quote: “Used properly, it’s still one of the most effective ways of communicating.” The problem is that we don’t. We don’t use it properly. We mainly use it to kill each other’s productivity by playing political and bullying games with it, but also to protect and hoard not just our knowledge, but also our closed networks, because we feel that information / knowledge is power and as soon as I share that knowledge I share my power, and why there is that inner urge to not want to share too much. Big mistake, in my opinion, because it’s rather the opposite: Knowledge *shared* is power. It’s that visibility, that openness, publicy and transparency that social technologies provide that email doesn’t that surely make perfect sense to help improve the way we collaborate and share our knowledge.

    While reading through your article, and under the section for What’s email good for, I couldn’t think of a good reason why for those various different scenarios and along what I mentioned above those very same interactions could take place on social networking spaces, specially, perhaps the standards piece that we are not there just yet … But for the rest I can’t see why we can move those interactions, use cases into much more powerful social tools where everyone would benefit from the interactions …

    RE: “I firmly believe that the best approach for improving productivity is a blend of social technology and email” > Indeed! Over the last 4 years and counting this is *exactly* what I have been trying to prove to folks with “A World Without eMail” . eMail per se has got about 3 unique use cases for which I still think is one of the most powerful communication tools, but certainly for the other use cases and instances it’s no longer the case. To name:

    1. Universal Identity on the Web: whether signing up for another social networking site, or registering through whatever form our email address seems to be our universal identity on the Web

    2. Calendaring and scheduling events, specially, since you would have to process them through your email system.

    3. 1:1 Confidential exchanges of sensitive information. And notice how I am saying 1:1 and not 1:many, since at that point it’s no longer confidential.

    For the rest there is no excuse why all of those other social interactions would move out of your inbox. I have developed a deck, I am now sanitizing for external consumption, where I have gathered over 40+ use cases of interactions that we use through email and how they can be moved to social networking tools. All 40+ of them! Will be sharing that externally shortly to help out spread the word. Stay tuned :)

    You also bring in a very good point of the hidden costs of working with email where instead of having the company cover for them it’s the knowledge workers themselves having to sacrifice their own private time for it, which means that, according to the business, this lack of productivity wouldn’t be anything that they would be worried about, since the burden is on us. I wonder though how sustainable that is when more and more knowledge workers are waking up to that notion of relying on social networks and not so much on using email, therefore realising the huge amount of time they can safe not just for work related matters, but also for their own private lives. Indeed, “At the end of the day, it’s all about getting smarter with how we use and share information”. I couldn’t have said it better, to be honest. And I think plenty of good progress is being made on this space at this point, don’t you think?

    Finally, I think you make an excellent point when you are stating the key to it all is to never underestimate the power of Education, specially, when dealing with social technologies and email, because this is not about what kinds of tools do you use. But more along the lines of shifting gears, changing mindsets, adopting new habits, and so forth, which in most cases are addressed by the company, in order to work smarter, not necessarily harder. We just cannot have enough education resources, training, learning and coaching on making the best out of it. Because it really is!

    Thanks again for the wonderful blog post and for the feedback! Fantastic stuff!

    PS. Oh, and one other story as to why I am really glad I moved away from corporate email 4 years ago to never walk back. When I left IBM Netherlands to move to IBM Spain one of the things that I was really happy about was how my #PKM system didn’t die with me in the move, with my mailbox being deleted with all of that knowledge gone for good, since that’s the first thing that HR does. I just had to change my e-mail address ;-)) and all of my social networking data, networks, knowledge, etc. was right there. Intact. Priceless! More than anything else because not only is it available to me, but also to everyone else. So when I leave the company that’s probably going to be my legacy, versus just an empty / deleted mailbox (by HR)

    Ohhh, and one other final note… On fragmentation, apart from what I mentioned on the G+ post. Somehow, Steve, I think you may be contributing to it over here in the blog, because when we leave comments over here on this post, how are we supposed to keep up with the thereafter conversation? Keep coming back and refresh? No RSS feeds for comments or even BACN notifications for follow-up comments ;-))

  7. Andrew Ball says:

    Great article Steve and sound advice. I’m still amazed at how few people know that cc and bcc can be turned off; less still how to do it. Another great tip is to disable fwd and reply all on default templates. I also read the Atos story with interest; 15% of emils that are useful probably says more about Atos than it does about email! One thing that concerns me most about email is its use as a personal document management system. This is the worst kind of abuse and creates unstructured document repositories that prevail in organisations where blame culture is rife and staff hoard knowledge to cover their backs. There’s a lot of cultural baggage that has given email such a bad press and it is high time that perspective was challenged, your article brings some welcome balance back to the debate.

  8. Steve Dale says:

    Luis,

    thanks as always for your constructive comments. I think the example you have set in how to reduce dependency on email is something everyone can learn from….but I’m not sure that workers caught up in corporate culture, rules and policies would have the same degree of freedom to do what you have done. It would by nice to see your model adopted as corporate strategy – perhaps IBM is doing so?

    All your points well taken, but I think today’s social media tools could be greatly improved. e.g. better control over aggregation and integration, better facilities for managing our information space, recognition that not all data/information can be treated the same. I sometimes feel we’re still trying to manage our information space with stone-age tools.

    Your points on fragmentation are noted. There is a facility to subscribe to this blog via RSS or email (!!), and I do provide sharing facilities to link with other networks. But I agree that the commenting facility could be improved and I’ll certainly look into that.

    Thanks again for your feedback.

  9. Luis Suarez says:

    Hi Steve, thanks much for the follow-up and for the additional input. It’s rather interesting that you mention the degree of freedom that I may seem to enjoy working for who I work, IBM. Traditionally seen as archaic, structured, rather hierarchical, top down driven, you would expect that I would be getting in trouble for trying to challenge such status quo, I can imagine. The thing is that the organisation has always been rather supportive. In fact, I can tell you how within the organisation there are hundreds, if not thousands, of fellow colleagues who are doing the same thing, although perhaps not to the degree where I am now myself (98% reduction), but getting there. One example, one of our VP executives hasn’t sent an email to her two teams, one in the US and another one in China, for nearly 2 years now and instead uses social technologies. So it’s happening. Another example, I’m currently working with my team helping getting our workforce “digitised”, i.e. basically, build and sustain a healthy online presence for their own personal brand and reputation and one of the course modules that we do is on “A World Without Email”. Incredibly popular and gaining more steam by the day.

    I guess what I am trying to say with the above comments is that no matter what most people would say, there isn’t anything written out there about email being the de facto communication or collaboration tool. It’s not written anywhere for any corporation, so if you can and want to revert the tide there is a way. You just need to persevere and be resilient at best. And patient, because it will be happening eventually.

    I absolutely agree 100% with you on improving today’s social media tools, because there is *huge* room for improvement and that’s also what I am basically doing at my company where by taking things to the extreme, to the limits, we get to push new ways of improving these social tools by our very own hands-on, versus just trying to figure out how it would work. That’s part of the stuff I do as well in helping redefine that user experience altogether. If we don’t do it, if we are not there using these social tools, hacking behaviours around them we won’t see them evolve much unfortunately. That’s why we need to keep pushing to help improve the overall user experience for us, but also for all of those folks coming after us :)

    Thanks again for hosting such a lovely and fruitful conversation. Much appreciated! :)

  10. Steve Dale says:

    Thanks for the comments Andrew. Good point you make about email being used as a personal document management system. I’ve always been quite thankful that I’ve not strayed into the realms of Document or Records Management as part of my professional life. It must be a nightmare managing risk and ensuring compliance when you don’t even know what documents are being edited/filed outside the official repositories. I think quite a number of organisations have become quite laissez-faire about email – time for a wake-up call I think.

  11. Steve Dale says:

    Just a quick riposte to Luis – I think they call it “eating your own dog food”, and I admire you for it! Hence why I trust your opinions over and above the many snake-oil salesmen that have popped up in the “Social Business” space :-)

  12. Luis Suarez says:

    Hi Steve, thanks for the kind comments. Well, since we are in Europe I rather prefer to say “drinking your own champagne”. Much more glamorous and everything and surely gets the odd look here and there ;-)) Perfect way to tease people about hehe But know exactly what you mean and why it also gets me every now and then when I keep getting exposed to those folks who keep talking wonders about all of these social technologies, then they do completely different things. Walk the talk, that’s another way of putting it, in my opinion :)

  13. John Tropea says:

    What a sound post…especially your analysis of Atos, and also your “Seven simple steps for reducing unnecessary email”

    I find that private messaging features in social networks are really weak modules, and not seen as important as the rest of the tool.

    re: points 1-4 of “what email is good for” isn’t unique to email…microblogging can do that, and even point 7, via 3rd party apps activities appearing-and sometimes actioned-in the activity stream

    Points 5 and 6 are important

    …I have been harping on about it in my posts and comments elsewhere. Unless people think microblogging should have formatting and unlimited characters and pasting images in the body, we can’t say it’s an email replacement. Why? Cause, at least a quarter of my emails contain pasted in screenshots, a couple of paragraphs and bold and bullet points. That’s my use case, I bet there are plenty of others that microblogging can’t cater for.

    And yes, activity streams in general lack tagging like Gmail, sorting by people and date, show me all my sent stuff (my posts, comments), and notifications (which in email is called the inbox) is not the central feature. Basically it’s not my personal information database.

    I commented some of my thoughts on this socialtext post
    http://www.socialtext.com/blog/2012/08/is-it-time-to-rewrite-the-email-handbook/

    And on my blog
    http://libraryclips.blogsome.com/2012/03/26/enterprise-activity-streamssometimes-it-is-about-the-technology

    Mine is the first comment on this post on the Sharepoint blog, it’s a very comprehensive product in what’s lacking in *managing* activity streams
    http://sharepoint.microsoft.com/blog/Pages/BlogPost.aspx?pID=1021

    Anyway this takes me back to point 7 and a conversation I had on this post
    http://byresearch.wordpress.com/2012/06/06/no-real-work-in-esn/

    …Are enterprise social networks about shifting context from the tool you are in (usually email) to ask a question & sharing an update…or are enterprise social networks *also* about doing work ie. the coordination and process that occurs in everyday work…if so, then perhaps we don’t need to shift context as we will already be there

    For example the Twitter team use Podio for microblogging/activity stream typical stuff like questions and sharing…but they also use an app (or made one) for actual process work like doing acquisitions (rather than email and attachments)
    http://blog.podio.com/2012/02/24/see-how-the-worlds-fastest-growing-social-network-uses-podio

    Since Olikka (an IT company) use Podio for regular microblogging/activity stream, they thought why shift context to do process work like CRM, etc…why can’t we do that in the platform (podio) that we are already in…so now they are doing that with process type apps on Podio
    http://blog.podio.com/2012/05/24/olikka-app-story

    And yet another example of using an enterprise social network for process based work
    http://blog.podio.com/2012/07/03/filipino-food-company-makes-podio-its-digital-office

    BTW – I don’t work for Podio, but I do think they have an edge when it comes to solutions to pain points…and the icing on the cake is the user can build/modify the solution (DIY apps)

    BTW – I wouldn’t take “email overload” as my main pain point for enterprise social networks…I’d concentrate on operating pain points
    http://johntropea.tumblr.com/post/16618568756

  14. Steve Dale says:

    Hi John,

    many thanks for your comments. Some very good points you make, and thanks for all the links, which I’ll go and explore. I am in fact a regular reader of your blog, and did take some inspiration from your previous posts on this topic. I think Librarians/Information Professionals have a key role to play in helping people understand how to use the vast (and growing) array of communication and collaboration tools more effectively, and what practical steps we can all take to manage our personal information space. I also hope some of the vendors are taking note of what you’re saying. There’s room for some vast improvements in Enterprise Social Software solutions. Thanks again

    Steve

  15. Luis Suarez says:

    OUTSTANDING contribution, as usual, John! Thanks ever so much for the wealthy of commentary and additional links to tap into! Absolutely stunning! I surely agree with Steve on the key role from Librarians and Information Professionals on helping make sense of knowledge created and shared across! :)

    I am wondering though, @John, @Steve, whether with the emergence of social tools within the corporate world we should be looking into the opportunity to challenge how we have collaborated in the past and challenge some of our very own assumptions of how collaboration happens. I know since I started with #lawwe my habits have changed dramatically from how I used to interact through email and how I do it through social networking tools. Not saying they are there as far as functionality is concerned, but suggesting that some times we should look more into hacking our very own behaviours. For instance, I no longer share screen shots through email, but through IM or in Activity Streams with links to image repositories, internally, or externally… Is that something that we should be doing if we would finally want to break free from email driven habits and behaviours? I mean, challenge and hack new behaviours?

  16. Steve Dale says:

    Thanks Luis (@elsua) a great idea. Some of us have been connecting and collaborating on-line since way before it got called Social Media, Social Business, Enterprise 2.0 or any of the other labels. I’ve changed and adapted the way that I use collaborative technologies, and similar to you, I don’t use email to share screen shots, and very rarely use it for attaching documents (unless it’s to a client). Any sharing I’ll tend to use a link on Twitter, or link/embed on Google+ or use my own blog. I’m not saying I’m doing everything right, but I am changing my behaviour as technologies mature and culture changes. I’m also very happy to learn best (better) practice from others. Sounds like a good topic for a Google+ hangout. Maybe we should organise something?

  17. Luis Suarez says:

    Hi Steve! Absolutely! I think you pretty much nailed it again on the head with your comment about “[…] I’ve changed and adapted the way I use collaborative technologies […]”, because I think that’s at the heart of the matter in here. It’s a natural process of evolving our interactions always looking for best way to expand our horizon with these social technologies, looking for new use cases, hints and tips, etc. etc. to get the most out of them. For instance, at work, I have developed a presentation, which I am currently sanitising for external consumption, where I have come up with over 40 different use cases of email driven interactions and have mapped them to social networking tools. It’s a presentation in constant editing by adding and removing hints and tips to it, but it’s proved tremendously helpful to help challenge the notion of whether we do need to keep relying on email so much and instead look for other, much more productive ways … Hoping to share it soon!

    PS. I would love to get together for a G+ Hangout! Perhaps towards the end of this week, or some time next week? Who else is in? :)

  18. Steve Dale says:

    Hi Luis – thanks once more the comments. The presentation you refer to sounds very interesting, can’t wait for it to go public!

    I’m sure we could pull in a lot of interest for a G+ Hangout on the topic of “Taming the Email Dragon” – or something similarly provocative! Not that I wish to prevent anyone starting such a discussion in the mean time, but for me it would have to wait until I’m back from holiday (w/c 10th Sept). I think having you involved would attract a lot of interest. Will pick this one up again soon!

  19. Luis Suarez says:

    Hi Steve,

    You are most welcome and thanks again for entertaining the conversation over here! Way cool! Yes, I’m about to start the sanitization process and I would think I may be having it ready in the next couple of weeks, or so. I had already the thought of doing a Google Plus Hangout on Air on the topic, so we will have to wait and see what happens… I was aiming perhaps for mid-September or end of September to be able to host it… So we shall see … Will keep everyone posted on it …

    Thanks again for the heads up and for all the feedback! Enjoy the holidays!!

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  21. Finally had time to read your post, Steve, and ALL the comments. Great post and interesting discussion!
    As some of the commentors say, I’d like to add a 9th reason to use email: it’s good for 1-on-1, private/confidential communication. As Luis said: It’s maybe even the only good reason to use email. The rest of our communication can move to SNA’s. I agree with John though, that DM-ing and Messaging in Facebook still seems to be somewhat shaky. And risky… We’ve all tried to DM something that popped up in our public stream anyway, for instance…
    But still, email is clearly moving to social networks. The thing I like about that is that communication is being done in a platform that is open by default instead of closed, like email. It triggers us to think open first and make something private if needed.
    Moreover, emailing itself is changing rapidly. Relating to Conrad’s comment: We used to use email like paper letters. Instead of writing “Dear Sir [content] Best regards, x”, we now just write “Thanks” or “OK”. Email is being used more like messaging and chat.
    I love your point about education. This is a huge issue. Some time ago I asked someone (who is about 40 years old) to forward an email to me. He didn’t know what I meant and how he should do it… This is funny, but also a pretty serious issue. An even bigger issue is that people don’t use email (and other tools) productively. They simply haven’t learned how. This has to do with learning features of email, but also with learning a good and sound knowledge work process. I use ‘Getting Things Done’ for instance. It has increased my productivity in a big way. When I tell about GTD and train people in the principles it’s a revelation to them. I think 9 out of 10 people don’t control their email and related social tools. They just let it come at them and are overwhelmed by the amount of information every day.
    We have work to do! :-)

  22. Steve Dale says:

    Many thanks for your comments Samuel, some great points. Coincidently, I had to explain to my wife (50-ish) earlier this week how to forward an email. I think we maybe take too much for granted on the general level of competence in using email. Which also endorses your last point…”we have work to do”!

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