Beyond Email as Communication

As Anne Zelenka points out in her post “Busyness vs. Burst: Why Corporate Web Workers Look Unproductive” email has become a single channel of communication for the busy.

Blogs, wikis and RSS offer additional ways to communicate besides email.

Email was a relative easy transition from letters because the paradigm was the same. You write text and address it to someone. I still occasionally receive emails with the full letter text in the message (Dear Doug: . . . ). Email even carries over the antiquated “cc” and ‘bcc” concepts from the days of carbon paper to produce copies. (Carbon paper for letters disappeared with typewriters).

Email was cheaper and faster than conventional letters, so it is easy to see why its use became so widespread.

Unfortunately, email has quickly become the only communication tool, rather than one of the communication tools. I often will get stuck in an email thread could have been better dealt with on phone call.

The popularity of the blackberry has solidified the prominence of email as the primary communication tool. Being freed from the shackles of you ethernet cable, all of your email can be hanging on your belt.

Email is the knee-jerk response for communication. Everything can go in there: correspondence, contacts, reminders, documents, to-do lists, etc.

If you look at your email traffic you may realize that all of that email need not be in your inbox. Much of it you do not need to respond immediately (if ever).

A blog can be a better tool if you are announcing something. A wiki can be a better tool for archiving information. Both of these are better ways of sharing information and are more retrievable across the enterprise than email. RSS alerts can be used to promulgate this information through less disruptive means than email.

One thought on “Beyond Email as Communication”

  1. As you said already, email’s ease of use and in-the-face approach is probably the reason why any/all communication is done using it. Combined with the approach that you the choice to deal with it at the time you are ready for it, makes it all the more functional.

    Email by itself acts as an under-featured but functional work portal. In spite of having blogs and RSS feeds, the ability to read them all in one single reader makes it the more attractive option.

    At the risk of pimping our idea, I would be mighty thrilled if you could just have a read of our writeup on email and its role in data collection & user participation.

    http://www.kabooru.com/2008/01/09/email-is-a-platform/

    Your thoughts and critiques would be highly appreciated.

    Warm Regards.

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