Archive for September, 2011

I won’t rehearse the myth of Sisyphus here. But suffice it to say that I don’t agree with Camus when he concludes his essay “The Myth of Sisyphus”:

The struggle itself toward the heights is enough to fill a man’s heart. One must imagine Sisyphus happy.

I am happy when I play Tetris although I know that that game is only about struggle that will never end. The difference is that I decide to engage in the game myself. Sisyphus had no such choice. And I can abandon Tetris at any moment, sans the grip that the game holds on my through my own competitive nature. Again Sisyphus could not end his torment on his own.

What does this have to do with email and #noemail? A wise observation by Andrew Hyde in a tweet that returns to me via Mark Suster‘s post at CloudAve.com titled Why Email May Be Draining Your Company’s Productivity is right on target.

@AndrewHyde tweets: inbox = tetris getting zero lines doesn’t win it just makes the next move easy.

Mark goes on in his article to talk about his own experiences with the illusive inbox zero and the impact of email and normalized email behaviors on his life as a VC and startup exec. Some of Mark’s insights as specific to his work (as he himself notes) but many are very useful in getting us all to do a bit more out of the (in)box thinking.

email is Tetris; not Sisyphus’ stone. There are alternatives. You can escape.

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A calendar page dated Wednesday August 3 showed up in my atom-based faculty mailbox today from my ever alert colleague, Cal Lee.

Angela: Um. Do you not answer e-mails anymore? Because I have e-mailed you four times asking you to come to my desk.

Phyllis: Honey, if I don’t have time to answer an e-mail, I definitely don’t have time to walk over to your desk.

Angela (R) and Phillis (L)

Angela (L) and Phillis (R)

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The Globe and Mail reports that social software within the enterprise will soon replace email, just as Luis Suarez has been saying for the past four years.

David Stewart, Yammer’s vice-president of product management, is quoted saying (with some obvious self-interest) that: “People have seen the value that social networking has provided in the consumer space. They’ve come to recognize that as that space matures … they can do this in [the] employee space as well.” “Unlike e-mail, enterprise social networks can store and keep detailed records of public exchanges between employees and track how ideas evolve. For instance, instead of e-mailing everyone in the company with a question, employees can seek answers on the network. Not only is that less intrusive than e-mail, but it also keeps a record of the response that others can reference in the future,” Stewart adds later in the article.

Despite Stewart’s position, or perhaps because the experience it gives him, the gist of his statement which I would translate as “people know how this work in their lives in general and we know that they are using social media at work even as back channels so’s let’s make it work in a way that works for all of us and can even be legally accountable as needed” is certainly true in many good ways.

Here’s hoping active and productive use of enterprise social media will be rewarded.

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Two announcements from Facebook yesterday are worth highlighting.

First, Facebook announced some improvements to the ways you can organize your friends. One of the nicer features is the some friends can be grouped automagically. Say, you want to post only to friends in a certain town or other common connection. Now, Facebook promises to make that Smart. They don’t promise that Smart Friends will make your friends smart or sort out those friends that are less smart though. Either would be something grand!

Further, Smart Friends borrows from News Feed by deciding who you *really* want to interact with based on the same or very similar Top Sekrit Facebook Friend Ranking Voodoo. Facebook puts it this way:

Close Friends and Acquaintances lists – You can see your best friends’ photos and posts in one place, and see less from people you’re not as close to.

There will be more interaction between Close Friends and the News Feed. That is if you add someone as a Close Friend — yes, it’s automagic but you can manually add and remove folks too — they get more News Feed points and are more likely to show up in your Feed.

And these Circles, err Friends Lists options, can be used along with privacy settings.

A very good explanation is here on the Facebook blog.

Digest Option

Second, Facebook has promised to reduce notifications from single message to periodic updates. This is presented in this way:

We’re testing a feature for people who are very active on Facebook and receive lots of email notifications from us. We’ll provide a new summary email and turn off most individual email notifications. If you want to turn them back on, there’s a control in your account settings.

Really it’s little more than a digest feature as seen on most listservs. Still it goes a long ways for many people toward reducing annoying inbox fillers. About time. Most of us have already set our notifications to “OFF”

The worry at ReadWriteWeb is that those of us who have our settings as we like them may have them reset for us. I doubt that that will be the case.

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State of the art File Transfer

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Michael Hart

Michael Hart (1947 – 2011)
founder of Project Gutenberg

At The Register UK
At New York Times

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School is back in session. My son is off to Serbia for the year. And the #noemail blog posts have slacked off a bit waiting for me to catch my breath.

I’m still panting but I want to quickly add a miscellany of very recent #noemail related articles (perhaps gist for blog posts later).

In NYTimes, Noam Cohen covers Navid Hassanpour’s (a political science graduate student at Yale) paper titled “Media Disruption Exacerbates Revolutionary Unrest.” Hassanpour shows that turning off social media really aggravates rebels rather than disrupting them or quieting them.

At paidcontent.com, Brian Solis writes of the “End of Social Media 1.0″. Solis is looking a new roles for brands as social media moves to the next stage. He ends “The end of Social Media 1.0 is the beginning of a new era of business, consumer engagement, and relevance. #AdaptOrDie”

The Next Web makes a spurious claim that there is a copyright held on the word “email” which was filed 30 years ago. Many subtle points of copyright law are skirted to get to a story that may be somewhat true. Even if a single non-unique, obvious and not completely original coinage could have been copyrighted rather than trademarked, it’s non-defensible. But here’s the article“Today is the 30th anniversary of the word ‘email’ as copyrighted by this man”.

Comediva puts email aside and introduces us to G-Male — every girl’s dream or nightmare.

Read Write Web tells us of quick changes to the Facebook News Feed in response to the growing popularity of Google Plus and predicts that Facebook, using its deeper experience, could or should win the News Stream War.

In Atlantic Monthly, Josh Sternberg writes of “Social Media’s Slow Slog Into the Ivory Towers of Academia” featuring smart quotes from old pals, Howard Rheingold and Sarah (intelligirl) Robins.

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