The Real Paul Jones

Accept no substitutes

Email Gets Failing Grades. I speak for #noemail

Paul, · Categories: General · Tags:

#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.”¯ The options: e-mail, text, Facebook and Twitter. According to company figures, 98 percent chose e-mail.

My responses here later.

20 years in 5 minutes and #noemail at Duke

Paul, · Categories: #noemail, General

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):

Another, topical, view of a Paul Jones

Paul, · Categories: General

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

Space Travelers and ibiblio.org

Paul, · Categories: General

Space travelers informed by ibiblio are now on the UNC School of Information and Library Science’s Vimeo channel.
Like if you like.

Remembering Seamus Heaney (April 13, 1939 – August 29, 2013)

Paul, · Categories: General

Seamus Heaney

We were lucky and privileged in the course of Seamus Heaney’s live to have crossed paths with him several times. First when he agreed to be part of an early experiment in putting poetry on the WWW by not only granting us the use of some of his poems, but he agreed to record his readings of those poems himself with the help of Harvard’s Poetry Room in the 1994. Heaney had not yet won the Nobel Prize at that point. That would come the next year when his work was cited “for works of lyrical beauty and ethical depth, which exalt everyday miracles and the living past”.

Certainly the poems he chose for the Internet Poetry Archive are exemplars of that sense of beauty, depth and exaltation.

Heaney returned to Chapel Hill in May 12, 1996 to deliver our commencement address.

To send off our graduates into their new lives, he quoted from a ballad he had heard whilst growing up in Derry in which a young woman was going off into the world leaving on the 12th of May. There was much wise reflection in his interpretation of that ballad in the context of commencement, but I recalled and recall now the final verse which is a hopeful send off for graduates and for Heaney himself:

                          So I bade them all good evening
                               and there I hoisted sail,
                          Let the best betide my countryside,
                               my fortune never fail.
                          Then night coming on, all hopes being gone,
                               I think I will try elsewhere,
                          at a dance or a wake my chance I'll take
                               and leave Magherafelt May Fair.

Seamus Heaney at the Internet Poetry Archive.

Preferred Chat System – #noemail

Paul, · Categories: #noemail

Preferred Chat System from XKCD

Visualizing a life with #noemail (and pre-#noemail)

Paul, · Categories: #noemail

MIT’s Daniel Smilkov, Deepak Jagdish, and César Hidalgo have created a great Gmail metadata visualization tool called Immersion. The first thing that Immersion does is map your email interaction networks in a nice interactive way. You can see networks emerge, strength of ties (via number of interactions), isolated mail bombers (usually listservs or alerts), and relationships easily and beautifully.

For me this is particularly nice as you can control the time periods that are mapped. So I mapped my email interactions for the three years before I quit email, then the two years after having stopped doing email, finally the past month of #noemail (this past month).

Mail networks pre-#noemail (3 years)

Mail networks pre-#noemail (3 years)

Mail networks since practicing #noemail (2 years)

Mail networks since practicing #noemail (2 years)

Mail Networks in the past month #noemail (June 2013)

Mail Networks in the past month #noemail (June 2013)

The Story Behind the WWW Hypertext 91 Demo Page and UNC and me

Paul, · Categories: General

We’ve gotten a lot of nice coverage of my rediscovery of perhaps the earliest World Wide Web pages this past week.

Fact is that those pages — Tim Berners-Lee’s Demonstration Page for Hypertext 91 and my own personal page — have been on the net almost continually since they were developed and/or modified on my NeXT cube during Tim’s visit to UNC in the late Fall of 1991 on his way to San Antonio and the ACM conference in December 1991. While the pages have moved from server to server as we upgraded, the pages mostly worked just fine even in modern web browsers without modification. True, there are HTML tags that are strange to us now: DD, DT, DL, NEXTID, and a requirement that each A link have a NAME field. (place view-source:http://ibiblio.org/pjones/old.page.html and view-source:http://ibiblio.org/pjones/old.paul.html in Chrome to see the old school html unrendered).

But how did those pages get created and how did they end up in Chapel Hill on my NeXT in first place?

Wide Area Information Servers and the WWW gateway

In the late 1980s and early 1990s, Judd Knott and I led a network services research group at UNC in the Office for Information Technologies. Among the projects we developed was an internet bulletin board service that allowed access to all kinds of software for information sharing, Free software (as in Freedom), USENET News, Gopher, etc — even email. LaUNChpad quickly had hundreds of users and allowed us experiment in a living world and in the process contribute to information access in a small way.

We were often implementers of access protocols and very early software releases. One particular project really caught our interest; Wide Area Information Servers (WAIS), a Z39.50 database searching software suite, was being developed at Thinking Machines, Inc (a company mostly out of MIT that included Brewster Kahle who would later found Internet Archive). We, Jim Fullton in particular, quickly became a participant in development of a free and robust version of WAIS (wais-8-b2) in the spring of 1991.

Not long after, Jim made contact (via one of the hypertext newgroups) with Tim Berners-Lee of CERN who was interested in developing a gateway between WAIS servers and his project modestly called The WorldWideWeb. By about September, Jim and Tim had something working although not ready for general use. By October, Tim announced the gateway.

On The Way to Hypertext 91

Not long after, Jim got email from Tim saying that he was submitting a paper on what was now called more briefly WWW at the upcoming Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) conference Hypertext 91 in San Antonio in December. Tim made plans to stop by UNC and visit with us before going on to Texas. He was confident given the immediate acceptance of WWW on newsgroups and as seen in his logs that he would get a good speaking slot at the conference.

A few weeks later, we learned differently. Tim’s paper had been rejected. But he had been offered a spot to demonstrate the WWW. Only a couple of catches. There was to be no Internet connectivity at the conference. And as Tim’s demonstration required a NeXT computer, he would have to bring his from Europe. Tim was intrepid and soldiered on.

A Call to an Expert

Anticipating Tim’s arrival, I called a nearby Computer Science department. The voice at the other end had heard of Tim’s project but was not impressed. He immediately recited what he saw as deadly problems with the WWW:

  1. Links in hypertext must be bidirectional. WWW’s are one way only.
  2. WWW servers aren’t aware of each other and there is no inter-server communication.
  3. All WWW servers are equal. There should be a concept of hubs.
  4. WWW servers don’t keep state. They are completely unaware of their previous interactions.
  5. It’s obvious that whoever wrote the hypertext engine doesn’t understand SGML. This HTML is done all wrong.
  6. Finally, he’s giving this away for free. That means it has no value at all. We have our own version and a strong licensing partner.

I didn’t take Tim to meet with the person who owned that voice.

Tim Berners-Lee’s visit to Chapel Hill

When Tim did come to visit, he already knew that I too had a NeXT just like his. He stopped by. We talked about WAIS and WWW and beer and he pulled out a floptical drive (NeXT pioneered a read-write optical disk in a case. No one followed). I installed Tim’s graphical browser on my NeXT. Tim talked me through using WWW by using a copy of his Hypertext 91 demonstration page.

There was, as you see now, a link to the WWW< >WAIS gateway for searching a database in the next room. When I clicked on the link, my information request first went to CERN in Switzerland then back to UNC to search the database. The results then left UNC for Switzerland where html was added and then the results sent back to my NeXT.

Tim showed me how simple and easy editing and creating a WWW page could be. First he showed how straightforward editing was by changing “demonstration” to “demonfdgfgstration.” I created my own page and added a link to an FTP site in Denmark that hosted a sound collection among other things. I wanted to see if the NeXT and Tim’s WWW browser would be able to pass the sound to a player. I think it did, but I really can’t remember if it did.

Beers near English Scholars

That night, I invited Tim, Jim, Judd and others working on our project to my home. My wife, Sally Greene, was having a bunch of her friends, all PhD students in English over as well.

The geeks and literature folks didn’t really mix. The geeks were out on the deck in the warm North Carolina fall night. The scholars were in the kitchen. I think some of the talk inside was of “Afternoon, a Story” a hypertext composition by Michael Joyce. Someone was interested in how current theory impacted (yes that word) and was impacted by hypertext. No one had actually experienced hypertext other than Apple’s Hypercard though. Yet just a few feet and a few drinks away…

My NeXT, Proceedings from Hypertext 91, The NeXT Book

World’s Oldest Web Page (I have it)

Paul, · Categories: General

Links for now. Story later.

Sources:

X-Post Meet Your New CEO; Your Kid – #noemail

Paul, · Categories: #noemail

I”m delighted that the slide deck from our webinar made it into a blog post by Luis Suarez called Meet Your New CEO; Your Kid.

Luis recounts some of his motivations for beginning to Live A Life Without Email over five years ago. The speculates about our futures at work, at home and in the world. Looking at our kids is a good way to learn the ways of an evolving world — even if one lesson is to start forgetting what you’ve always found useful and helpful.

Luis includes this video of kids evaluating their current social media (SnapChat, Tumblr, and Whisper.sh are not mentioned)

Be sure to read his post.

Information Overload Research Group Webinar #noemail

Paul, · Categories: #noemail

Yesterday, Luis Suarez (IBM Europe), Robert Shaw (Blue Kiwi & ATOS) and I did a webinar for the Information Overload Research Group on “How can business survive without e-mail at all?”

The webinar is captured here by Charlie Davidson of Attensa (and IORG). Nice moderation was provided by Marty Bariff of Illinois Institute of Technology.

The slides I created for my part of the talk are here:



G+ Community for Living a Life Without Email – #noemail

Paul, · Categories: #noemail

Luis Suarez (not the European footballer but the one of IBM Europe fame) has started a Google + Community for Living a Life Without Email moderated by Paul Lancaster (Sage UK), Alan Hamilton (Social business evangelist, IBM UK) and myself.

Join us for more #noemail insights with a global and social business twist and look for #lawwe (Living A World Without eMail) and #noemail on most social networking sites.

#noemail encouraged by Harvard Business Review

Paul, · Categories: General · Tags:

The title says it all Give Up Email Altogether
Read and heed.

More Love in the Time of Digital Reproduction at the Ackland Museum

Paul, · Categories: General

As folks getting my announcements on Facebook know, I was a speaker in the Tea at Two series at UNC’s Ackland Art Museum last Thursday. We were celebrating and adding a bit to the More Love: Art, Politics, and Sharing since the 1990s show at the museum.

Janine Antoni, American, born 1964: Mortar and Pestle, 1999; chromogenic print. 48 x 48 inches. Edition of 10.

Here’s how the program was described:

“The Work of Art, Technology, and Love in the Age of Digital Reproduction”

What do light-weight, long-lasting batteries, Match.com, 4chan, Kittehz, SnapChat, Skype, Open Source software, Wikileaks and texting have to do with love and art? They put very contemporary twists on Walter Benjamin’s “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction” and on More Love’s subtitle: “Art, Politics, and Sharing since the 1990s.”

In the spirit of the description and in the spirit of the works in the show, I first began my talk weeks before by creating a conversation on the Facebook event page for the talk. First I collected as many versions of Bert Berns’ “Tell Him” from YouTube. There are easily 30 or more versions of this song done since the first recording by Johnny Thunder in 1962 and the more famous cover by the Exciters that same year. I love the beginning, the lead in and the first line “I know something about love.” The song has been covered by the Mod singer Billie Davis in the UK, Kenny Loggins in the US, Alma Cogan in several languages, by the glam rock bands Hello and Glitter Band, as Northern Soul by Dean Parrish, by the cast of Glee, incorporated into a musical “Return to the Forbidden Planet,” and parodied on Saturday Night Live.

I made a YouTube list of 34 of these.

Along the way, I managed to pick up the idea of inviting people to join the talk via Google+ HangOut. Part of this idea came from a conversation with Mark Katz who was expressing his regrets that he would be in Venice on the day of the talk. Mark said something like “I’ll be in the City of Love tho.” It struck me that there are several Cities of Love — San Francisco especially the Haight, Philadelphia, Paris and to some degree Boston (where couples of all genders may marry). I arranged a HangOut with Bebo White who lives in the Haight, Lorraine Richards who is on the faculty of Drexel in Philadelphia, Courtney Pulitzer who lives in Paris, and Edwin Huff in Boston.

One of the interesting side effects of this Hangout is that while I know Ed, Courtney, Lori and Bebo none of them knew any of the others. Each was from some different time of my own life. Still we all played together well.

Part of the idea for the Hangout was to bring Citizens of Cities of Love into the museum by using common consumer technology, but another part was to mirror and draw attention to Emily Jacir’s piece “Where We Come From.” Jacir solicites and performs small acts of remembrance and love in Israel on behalf of Palestinians who are forbidden to return to the places of their birth. Our aim was not so charged. Each Citizen offered to perform some small task for some one attending the talk. But as love should be bidirectional, the person requesting was asked by the Citizen to perform some small act on behalf of the Citizen.

Bebo will be documenting a visit to Spike, a coffee house in the Castro where Michael Williams’ friend Austin Miller is a barrista. Michael in turn will be recreating a human pyramid that Bebo and his friends created at UNC during the 1967 Human Be-in. Bebo also took us on a stroll thru the Haight using his phone camera including an interview with a modern flower girl.

Edwin showed us the spring snow outside his window. He was asked by Iris Tillman Hill to run out and toss a snowball. Ed grabbed his phone and took us out while he did just that. Iris was only asked to enjoy the warm sunshine on Ed’s behalf.

Lori, who introduced herself by describing the complex relationship between Philly and sk8erz in the Love Park (a great story worth reading), was asked to visit the successful skateboard park under the Interstate in FDR Park by Jeff Shear. Jeff will visit Carrburritos for Lori.

French PhD student, Rox Ane, asked Courtney to attend a Paris Saint-Germain soccer/football game. UNC stand out Tobin Heath is signed to PSG for 6 months. Ideally, Courtney will get a photo of Tobin Heath in PSG uniform. Rox Ane will feast on a plate of Allen and Son BBQ as Courtney’s proxy.

Reflecting Frances Stark’s “My Best Thing” which uses Xtranormal characters to enact a sexually charged internet chat, I took to Xtranormal to present instead four quotes/discussions on technological determinism by Paul LaFargue, Marshall McLuhan, me and Larry Page. I took the Dude as my proxy and our guide.

Additionally, I did a short presentation on Walter Benjamin using Prezi which included a video explaining part of his “Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction” (1936) made by Warren Hedges. Also included in the presentation is a heart shaped word cloud I created in Tagxedo.

As much as time allowed, I spoke about the timeline for the Technologies for Hooking Up from Minitel to SnapChat that I created with Tiki-toki.

Thanks to the Ackland and especially to Amanda Hughes and Allison Portnow for making this possible. Amanda helped document expressions of love by the Citizens who in return are at this moment receiving prisms as tokens of love from Yoko Ono as part of her “Time to Tell Your Love” piece.

During questions someone asked more about Benjamin’s ideas. I referred them to John Berger’s 1972 BBC series “Ways of Seeing” Particularly the first episode. Here it is:


John Berger / Ways of Seeing , Episode 1 (1972) from shihlun on Vimeo.

Beyond e-mail: the constantly changing realm of communication #noemail

Paul, · Categories: #noemail

The UNC University Gazette did a nice cover story about “Beyond e-mail: the constantly changing realm of communication” which focused largely on #nomail as a future for communications as the title suggests. I give appropriate credit to the Magic School Bus’ Miss Frizzle as my inspiration.

Dan Sears had fun taking this picture for the top of the story:
Paul Jones by Dan Sears

Recording of #noemail Day Hangout with Luis Suarez and Paul Lancaster

Paul, · Categories: #noemail

Paul Lancaster of Sage (UK) aka @lordlancaster, Luis Suarez of IBM Spain (joining the Hangout from the Canary Islands) and I did a Google Hangout to discuss International #noemailday, #noemail and #lawwe (Living in A World Without Email). Good to chat with my international #noemail friends about what we do (and don’t do), how we’ve done it, and what we encourage others to do (and not do).

Old, New and Upcoming of Things ibiblian and Jonesian

Paul, · Categories: General

Four things ibiblian and/or Jonesian:

  1. Folkstreams.net, an ibiblio-hosted project, got a very good mention on the most read blog, boingboing.net
  2. I’m speaking at the RTP Association of Information Technology Professionals on Thursday Jan 10 on a panel titled “Strictly Social – How do you connect? Cutting Edge Communication for the Future.”
  3. I’m speaking at the Ackland Art Museum during the More Love: Art, Politics, and Sharing since the 1990s exhibit showing on “The Work of Art, Technology, and Love in the Age of Digital Reproduction” on March 20 at 2 pm in the Tea at Two series
  4. ibiblio got some love from the Paleofuture at the Smithsonian as one of the Fun Places on the Internet (1995) for the Dead Sea Scrolls Exhibit.(still in 1995 shape)

Time’s a-wastin’ (doing email) – #noemail

Paul, · Categories: #noemail

Gideon Lichfield writing in Quartz notes: You are wasting your time on email. Now more than ever. Quit! Average email reply time in 2012 went up to 2.5 Days from 2.2 days in 2011. (according to Cue.com which also notes that dogs are mentioned more often than cats in corporate email. 38% vs 32%).

Wasted time waiting for email replies

Wasted time waiting for email replies

The forward thinking Lichfield also observes:

On current trends, then, if email response times keep increasing by 10% a year, and assuming that an average postal delivery time in your country is two days, I estimate that by approximately 2020 it will be faster to get an answer from someone by writing a letter than by sending an email.

(his bold statement)

Be ahead of the pack; begin with #noemail today (really you should give some announcement beforehand. See suggestions throughout this blog for how to quit with grace).

No Email Day Approaches – 4 Good #noemail stories on its Eve

Paul, · Categories: #noemail

No Email Day
Tomorrow 12/12/12 is No Mail Day. The second No Email Day. The first was 11/11/11. The idea is to try to go 24 hours without email. What to use in its place? Most anything else from F2F, Phone, txt, social media or smoke signals.

Here are several #noemail stories to keep you warm as we approach the Day. Turn up the gas log fire. Burn a few pixels. Relax. As Mother Jones said: “Sit down and read. Educate yourself for the coming conflicts.”

BaseLine presents a report in the dreaded slide show format called “Workers Can’t (or Won’t) Escape From Their eMail”.

The BaseLine report is a retelling of the Minecast reports filed under “The Shape of Email” .

The first report “What Mimecast knows about email” looks at the inboxes of corporate email users in a handy interactive infographic format. Mimecast is unique in that they survey users in the US, UK and South Africa. Some small differences there to be seen.

The second report “What end users think” looks at user opinions and deceptions. For example, 25% of those surveyed say that they sent emails late at night from home in order to show their commitment to their jobs. 57% reported spending over half their work day on email (27% spent writing; 30% spent reading).

A third report or infographic looks at “What IT Professionals Think” about their email. Only 30% of IT professionals delete mail from their archives. 64% fear that social media poses a security risk. Only 1 in 5 or 20% believe that social media has an impact on email use.

Not exactly social or #noemail related, well perhaps indirectly related: The Pew Research Center’s Excellence in Journalism Project released a new report on the “Demographics of Mobile News” . The data represented by Poynter shows a significant change in device use from smartphone to tablet at about age 50 (more granularity of data would be helpful in understanding the points and trends of change). One simple explanation, that I’ve been giving out at my recent talks, is that this is exactly the age that our eyes begin to change. When we need, but resist bifocals. When the print is just too damn small!. The rise of tablets will hasten the death of email among the group most resistant to change — men over 50.

Tomorrow, enjoy #noemail on No Email Day.

Smartphone vs Tablet

Trouble breathing? Stop reading email – #noemail

Paul, · Categories: #noemail

Kind of an old story from Linda Stone — originally 2008 at O’Reilly’s Radar and at Huffington Post then revisited on her Attention Project in 2009 –, but just covered by Business Insider today. Linda Stone documents her own case of email apnea or holding your breath while reading email. Stone followed up her experience with broader research to discover that “80% of the people appeared to have email apnea—in other words, they held their breath or otherwise interrupted normal breathing.”

Also noticed by Business Insider : Gloria J. Mark and Stephen Voida of University of California, Irvine’s Department of Informatics with Armand V. Cardello of U.S. Army Natick Soldier R, D & E Center warn us “There will always be new “zombies” lurking with advances in information technology” in their 2012 paper “A Pace Not Dictated by Electrons: An Empirical Study of Work Without Email” [PDF].

Don’t be a Zombie. Breathe easy. Om Om #noemail