This past two weeks brought to my attention four challengers to email overload and a promise of more #noemail alternatives. The three applications, like many emerging alternatives, attempt to include mobile friendliness, terse messaging (sometimes with stickers or visuals), highly interactive communication and context appropriateness.

Charleston SC’s Post-Courier interviews Twitpics founder, Noah Everett, as he challenges email with Pingly. Okay not so much challenges as offers a delay of sorts. Pingly is said to come “from the phrase ‘Ping me’ (send me an email later.)” And in a display of tortured syntax: “We’re building basically from the ground up a brand new email service.” If someone is on your Pingly whitelist, their messages get marked as important. Despite the hype, Pingly is really an interactive whitelist management system for your inbox. Not #noemail.

Meanwhile, TechCrunch’s MG Siegler aka @parislemon, who himself did a brief #noemail stint, looks at signals from Twitter about extending their DM feature as an email killer. Siegler promises or predicts only a maiming of email in his title, but he opines and predicts and wishes from much more. I do too. DMs are one of my favorite features of Twitter, a back channel to the public Tweet Stream (as Siegler also notes and loves). An additional shared passion we share is for the forced terseness of Twitter communications: “But wait, Twitter DMs are only 140 characters, that will never work! In the context of email, that would very much be a feature not a bug.” But remember this article isn’t about what is now available so much as a wish list for Twitter developers.

I haven’t yet tested, Slack, which The Verge hypes as an email killer in an interview with founder Stewart Butterfield. Butterfield, himself has been #noemail for over 4 years (he says), so we can expect some insight here as well as a working product. Slack was developed, not coincidentally, about 4 years ago as a chat tool for Massive Multiuser Online games (MMO) — where terseness, interactivity, whitelists, and context control are essential. So far so good. Even better, Slack integrates communications across applications. As Butterfield says “It’s all your communication in one place, instantly searchable, and available wherever you go” or in market-speak “It’s a messaging and search platform that creates a single unified archive accessible through powerful search.” Despite the promise of #noemail, Butterfield hedges his bets by offering to integrate email into Slack in the future. In doing so, he repositions Slack from an email killer or an alternative communications integration play. The sort of Swiss Army Knife with too many specialized blades to fit into your pocket.


Vergers talk about Slack mostly loving the search but also talking about teams using Slack. And rightly dissing email.

Washington Post writer, Brigid Schulte, gets to Mailbox Zero and tells you how. Like getting into Carnegie Hall: practice, practice, practice. Well, a little more that that. Schulte proposes a set of practices that will, if followed with discipline, at least reduce your inbox size if not enhance your life. If you are anxious enough to be disciplined. What we know about people, just look at your desk clutter for a second, is that more than a few of us have that kind of self-discipline. And we look askant at those who do, seeing them as OCD or just anal. Not that Schulte’s practices are bad ones. They are very good. But they are also just simple common sense productivity practices whether in regards to email or to any other business task that can overwhelm you.

Why not just go nuclear on the Inbox at the corporate level as the German giant Daimler has done with their employees by promising to have all incoming emails received while on vacation deleted so not return to bulging inbox as reported in Financial Times (registration required)? [precis of the article here at The Atlantic without blockage].

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Still working on topics, as one talk was just added, for WWW/Internet 2014 Conference (where I’m to keynote) and the 11th International Conference on Applied Computing.
Watch this space for more soon.

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Continuing releases from Pew Internet/Elon University Imaging the Internet in 2025

Regarding changes brought by AI and Robots: We will experience less drudgery, and more leisure time

I responded:

“I for one welcome my new robot masters. I don’t welcome the loss of jobs or the depersonalization of services. The social impact will continue to force us to refocus on what makes us human, who we are in relation to each other. And the terms of the social contract that binds us. In the [US] South we saw great changes when the plantation system was abandoned. Not for the best—much room for improvement—but certainly for the better. Human augmentation, both onboard via wearable and implants and offboard with devices that think, are unstoppable. We want them. We want our hearts to keep pumping, our eyes to keep seeing, and we want to know more now! A further and unresolved question coming to confront us: Where does personhood reside? In our bodies or in the robots that may become the housing for our new selves?”

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For several years now, the good folks at the Pew Internet Project and at Elon University’s Imagining the Internet Project have asked people they consider experts to respond to questions about the Future of the Internet as it relates to different topics. A bit of what I’ve said has been sprinkled through those reports. The most recent series began coming out to public in March of this year. Here’s what I said–or more properly, some of what I wrote–about the next 25 years (with links to the larger reports):

As regards Digital Life in 2025
A: “Television let us see the Global Village, but the Internet let us be actual Villagers.”
Full report here.

As regards The Internet of Things.
A: I predicted that body movements may evolve into commands. “The population curve … will cause much of the monitoring and assistance by intelligent devices to be welcomed and extended. This is what we had in mind all along—augmented life extension. Young people, you can thank us later. We look like kung fu fighters with no visible opponents now, but soon, the personalized interface issues will settle on a combination of gestures and voice. Thought-driven? Not by 2025, but not yet out of the question for a further future. Glass and watch interfaces are a start at this combination of strokes, acceleration, voice, and even shaking and touching device-to-device. The key will be separating random human actions from intentional ones, then translating those into machine commands—search, call, direct, etc.”
Full report here.

As regards Threats to Net access and innovation
A: “Historic trends are that as a communications medium matures, the control trumps the innovation. This time it will be different. Not without a struggle. Over the next 10 years we will be even more increasingly global and involved. Tech will assist this move in a way that is irreversible. It won’t be a bloodless revolution, sadly, but it will be a revolution nonetheless.”
Full report here.

More to come in the coming months from
Imagining the Internet

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Last week on June 12, I delivered the keynote talk at the 9th Annual Metrolina Librarians Association meeting in Charlotte. (slides below)

As you can see if you look at the slides, I provided a survey of activities underway at the UNC School of Information and Library Science to illustrate new trends and directions for engagement and research in Information and Library Science.

Kaeley McMahan of Wake Forest University‘s Z. Smith Reynolds Library writes about her pick of top three projects here on their blog.

The conference hashtag was #mlachange2014 You can find references on Twitter and Facebook and on the MetroLibs group on Facebook.

Thanks to Doug Short of Central Piedmont Community College and the Board of Metrolina Librarians Association for having me down.

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I was in Prague and around the Czech Republic from mid-May til early June leading the UNC-Charles University Seminar on Libraries of Central Europe. Google Awesome collected my pictures and location and automagically created this story book about my travels.

Enjoy


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This past two days, I’ve been a bit split–talking about keeping yourself and your sources secret on one day then on how you should share knowledge (without email) the next night.

On Friday, I spoke about Tor and how it can be used (correctly) by journalists at the Reese News Lab.

And on Saturday, I gave the Robert Ballard Lecture for the Carolinas Chapter of the American Association for Information Science and Technology on #noemail. The #noemail talk is a completely updated version focusing on why email will be replaced (largely) by social and sharing, how this is already happening and what factors are driving that change.

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On January 30, Luis “elsua” Suarez visited our UNC School of Information and Library Science senior capstone course on Emerging Issues and Technologies to talk with us about his 6+ years without email while at IBM.

Luis brought a lot of good insight to the class as he did a Google Hangout with us from his home on Gran Canaria. Luis lives in Africa, reports in Europe and works most closely with a team in North America — without using email.

Near the end of his talk, he told us a little — very little — about his new adventure which was to start only a few days later. Luis is a charter member of Change Agents Worldwide.

Luis, who was extremely generous to spend time with us during his transition, will be moving from being a Change Agent within a very large global and hierarchical organization to advising and assisting organizations of all sizes to work better by learning about Social Business practices.

Luis has been a global presence already as has been noted in Wired, New York Times, and at Outside The Inbox dot EU (among others). His experience and personal engagement will definitely be a leader and advisor to call on.

Working with Luis has taught me not to look for the smartest person in the room but to look for the smartest network that has someone in the room with you.

Looking forward to his and CAWW’s future adventures.

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Each year at New Year’s, I’ve tried to work out something that would meet all the Southern folklore requirements for luck, prosperity, and a long sweet life as Mama Dip says “COLLARD GREENS for LOTS OF MONEY, BLACK-EYE PEAS for GOOD LUCK, PORK for GOOD HEALTH, YAMS to SWEETEN THINGS UP.” There are a dozen variations of what food yields what attribute, but the foods involved plus cornbread are required for whatever reasons might be given.

Starting a few years back, I’ve been adding the New Year’s plate pieces to the Portuguese dish, Caldo Verde aka the Green Soup. This year with full respect to the taste changes and easily availability of foods we might call Mexican, I moved away from the Portuguese kale and hard sausage soup entirely and went with the recipe below.

Served with a masa harina based cornbread and a red wine, it made a great New Years meal.

Caldo Verde por Ańo Nuevo

1 pound chorizo (Mexican style crumbly or hard Spanish style)
1 pound collards (stemmed, washed three times, rolled and chopped)
1 – 2 large sweet potatoes (peeled and diced)
1 large onion (peeled and diced)
4 garlic cloves (peeled and minced)
3 celery stalks (stemmed and diced)
2 – 3 medium carrots (peeled and diced)
1 poblano pepper (seeded and diced)
1 can or equiv of prepared black eyed peas (1 – 2 cups)
4 – 6 cups of stock
1 – 2 bay leaves

Garnish (enough for the table):
chopped pepper (orange, red or green)
chopped cilantro
chopped celery
chopped red onion
chopped and seeded jalapeńo

Most of the work here is in the preparation. If you start with dried black eyed peas, there’s a lot more work ahead of time. I skip that part and start with canned peas or those prepared ahead of time. Dicing for me means about 1/4 inch or less cubes or close to depending on the vegetable. Mincing, as in the garlic, means chop it as fine as you can or use a garlic press. For the garnishes, chop as course or as fine as your table desires.

You’ll need a large cooking pot for the caldo and small bowls for the garnishes.

Oil and heat the pot. Then saute the onion, garlic, pepper and celery until the onion is transparent.
Add the Mexican chorizo and stir until lightly browned and broken into bits.
Add sweet potatoes, bay leaf, and carrots. Stir for about 5 minutes.
Add the collards — they should be well shredded — and stir until dark green.
Now add the stock and black eyed peas then bring to a boil.
Reduce to a simmer and let it cook until the sweet potatoes are very mushy.
The slow simmer lets the flavors mingle. You can prepare the garnishes while you’re waiting and/or sip on a favorite beverage or chat with friends or read a good book.

Serve with cornbread (I make pan based on masa the tortilla flour, but every family has their favorite versions).

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Tis the season for email scams and hacks and trojans. As the holidays go into full swing, you suddenly find that “You Are A Winner!” or “Reset your password here” or the most evil of all “Someone changed your password — login to confirm or reset.”

This last works not just with email but with Facebook and other services as well. It may arrive via txt, FB message but usually via email. Bill Hayes writes somewhat forgivingly of his experience with the human engineered phishing of his friends by his compromised Gmail account in today’s New York Times, “Thank You for Hacking Me”

Not to take the fun out of the story, but one upside is that Hayes lost 9,187 items from his Gmail inbox. Clearly he needs better email management — and #noemail.

Last month a friend of mine had her Facebook account cloned. The new account immediately began friending all of the real person’s friends. As soon as you were friended, the phishing began.

I returned the friend request to see what was up. Soon I got a “Hello Message” then I decided to have fun:

[fake friend] Hello

[me] hello [friend's name]. Maybe you can help me
I think I left a wallet at your house [I have never been to her house]

[ff] I will check it out and get back to you

[me] maybe under the coffee table

[ff] Ok

[me] near the red chair
It has some very important papers in it
on the subject we were talking about

[ff] Ok

[me] I can’t say much about that here obviously
But there is a lot at stake

[ff] Ok

[me] be very casual while you are looking

[ff] ok

[me] this is very important. you know the chair i’m talking about?
[Chat Conversation End]

Of course I reported the false account just after. And it was soon gone.

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Business Practices That Refuse To Die (but should) via Kevin D. Jones of Decog Yourself

Thanks to Sebastian Schäfer

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From Germany, Harald Schirmer explains how email causes pain which blogging can abate. Click on the image for his full contribution and full explanation. Very well done. Blogs vs Email

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I somehow missed Charlotte Magazine‘s September feature about the Charlotte of 1968. A turbulent year for the city, the nation and the world. And for me. I was graduating from East Mecklenburg High and headed to NC State. In a nice sidebar, the principals and perhaps a bit of the principles of The Inquistion are featured. A nice picture of Lynwood Shiva Sawyer and Tom Wilkinson — Tom has his own feature this month in the same magazine (see previous post).

Tom Wilkinson and Lynwood Shiva Sawyer

I missed a lot of what was going on in Charlotte at that moment, but thanks to working on and with The Inquisition a lot of it is still familiar and enduring — some in a good way, like having a context when talking with Adam Stein who was one of the founders Charlotte’s first integrated law firm.

In 1983, a bunch of us began to meet with poet Ann Deagon who was looking to turn her project Poetry Center Southeast into a statewide service group for all writers. By 1985, we were an official 501(c)-3 organization called the North Carolina Writers’ Network. The apostrophe and its placement seemed very important at the time as I remember. Judy Hogan was the first president with Georgann Eubanks and myself serving as vice presidents. I eventually left the vice presidency and the Board of Trustees for a couple of decades and recently (2008 I think) rejoined the Trustees.

Now the Network has 1200 (dues paying) members. 200 of those members were in Wrightsville Beach for the Fall Conference, a gathering that moves around the state to a different site each year. We began with an annual conference in our first year with our first director Robert Hill Long and I setting up folding chairs someplace in Durham for many fewer people.

It was great to see what current director Ed Southern and his staff have done with the Conference and the Network.

North Carolina Writers Network

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On Saturday afternoon, I sat in on Tom Arnel’s Placeholder Show on WCOM-LPFM serving parts of Carrboro and anyone streaming the show. Tom asked me to put together a playlist on some theme — my choice. About 8-10 songs. I decided to do a set of songs by and about Roma aka Gypsies mostly in the Balkans and in France mostly influenced by jazz, pop, dance music and even alternative sounds.

Gypsy Queen by Van Morrison
My Gypsy Auto-Pilot by Gogol Bordello
Carolina by Taraf de Haidouks mixed by Bucovina Club
Me la Kamav by Vera Bila
Losing My Religion by Dolapdere Big Gang
Gypsy Rover by Roger McGuinn
Hierachie by Carmen Maria Vega
Runnin’ Wild (Course Movemente) by Django Rheinhardt
Hora Staccato by Taraful Ciuleandra and Maria Buza
Gypsy by Charlie Parker
Romani by Turkish Gypsies from Gypsies of the World

On Sunday, I picked up the MC job from Jerry Eidenier at Saint Matthews Episcopal Church in Hillsborough for Favorite Poem III. The twice yearly series is based on Robert Pinsky’s Favorite Poem Project. Parishioners being a poem — not written by themselves or relatives or friends — to share with each other. For this event, the poems were:

“There is a Community of the Spirit” Mevlâna Jalâluddîn Rumi as translated by Coleman Barks

“A Few Words on the Soul” Wislawa Szymborska (trans?)

“Barter” Sara Teasdale

“The Second Coming” W. B. Yeats

“Soliloquy of a Spanish Cloister” Robert Browning

“The Journey” Mary Oliver

“Departmental” Robert Frost

“The Poems of Our Climate” Wallace Stevens

“A Word” Emily Dickinson

“Provide, Provide” Robert Frost

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Reconnections with two old friends with #noemail connections this morning.

First Paul Gilster writes about not being able to go #noemail in the News & Observer. He has nice things to say (and mentions me and the #noemail life I’m leading), but as I comment:

Paul,
Why be negative?
it’s not quitting email, it’s communicating in better ways. #noemail is saying “I’m here but I don’t live at my desk” “I’m social when more appropriate” “Say it quickly and be direct” “Less covering your rear at work by CCing your boss at every move; work it out your self” “More sharing” and in the end a richer life.
As for email, it was adequate for the needs of the late 20th Century.
We don’t live there any more.
Peace out,
Paul

Paul is doing great work about space travel at Centauri Dreams. Perhaps he’s seen ibiblio – the movie.

Second, my ole pal and running buddy, Tom Wilkinson, who does no email and no social media is featured in Charlotte Magazine telling his tall — but also true — tales in “The Entertainer: the Backstage Live of Tom Wilkinson.” No page can contain Tom’s talking and animated presentation, but this is a good tribute and a good primer. Email could not do him justice, but maybe YouTube or Vimeo could.

Tom WIlkinson in Charlotte Magazine Credit Logan Cyrus

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During Festifall a couple of Sundays back, Chapel Hellians visiting the Chapel Hill Public Library table and bus took time to read Dr Seus’s Green Eggs and Ham (in front of a green screen). Familiar faces and voices are there including the Mayor and at least one member of Council.

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Luckily the slides have little to do with the words being spoken. The 60 slides in 5 minutes are illustrative of the variety of content hosted on ibiblio.org. The 60 projects represent about 1% of our holdings and relationships. The talk was part of a series of lightning rounds at The RTP Foundation on September 17, 2013, called “RTP 180: All Things Open Source”. Thanks to the RTP Foundation for putting the event together.

I posted the slides in an earlier article, but there they are again:

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#noemail is stylish. Who knew? Courtney Rubin reports in this past Sunday’s NYTimes Style section “Email Gets Failing Grades”.
I’m quoted as:

Paul Jones, a professor at the University of North Carolina, does not think they should have to.

“E-mail is a sinkhole where knowledge goes to die,” said Mr. Jones, who said that he gave up e-mail in 2011. It was a radical move, not least because Mr. Jones helped write the code for the university’s first e-mail program 30 years ago. “I’m trying to undo that sinful work,” he said, joking.

E-mails to him receive an automated reply: “Goodbye E-mail, I’m divesting,” plus some 20 ways to reach him. About the only person frustrated by this, he said, was a department head who wanted to know “how will you possibly read our important departmental announcements?” Mr. Jones said with a laugh.

But in his quest to eliminate e-mail, Mr. Jones may have a surprising obstacle: students. Canvas, a two-year-old learning management system used by Brown University, among others, allows students to choose how to receive messages like “The reading assignment has been changed to Chapter 2.”ť The options: e-mail, text, Facebook and Twitter. According to company figures, 98 percent chose e-mail.

My responses here later.

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I had a great time this Monday at the RTP Foundation taking part in 5 minute talks on open source projects called “RTP 180: Open Source All Things.” While I talked — slightly over my 5 minutes, I’ll admit — just over 60 slides representing about 1% of the projects currently hosted at ibiblio.org passed by on the screen at about 3 seconds each. That could have been a little fast for some people, so I’ve reposted those slides here:

On Wednesday, I took the #noemail message to the Duke Libraries as “Imagine Life without Email” where one former ibiblian and current Duke Libraires developer taunted me by sending an email in my presence with not one but two attachments. Will is, of course, the source of his own pain as Oscar Wilde observed “We are each our own devil, and we make this world our hell.”

Slides from that talk are here (note that Is Good doesn’t trust Google Docs but I assure you this link is fine):

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From the US National Arrrrr-chives the now annual appearance of:

It’s “Talk Like a Pirate Day” and don’t fear, we’ve got pirates in the National Archives! Here’s a caricature of “Paul Jones the Pirate.” This is a copy of a circa 1779 engraving found within the Records of the Office of War Information.

The Pirate Paul Jones

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