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).
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:
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…
Links for now. Story later.
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.
The slides I created for my part of the talk are here:
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.
The title says it all Give Up Email Altogether
Read and heed.
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.
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.
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:
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 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).
Four things ibiblian and/or Jonesian:
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%).
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).
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.
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
Just learned of a nice anonymous & disposable email to RSS tool called mmmmail. mmmmail says “you can choose any email address in the mmmmail.com domain and use it at your own will. All email sent to this email address of your choice can then be retrieved as an RSS feed.” A very nice way to collect and manage activity streams from various lists or even people that you’d like to read in an organized way. Simple; the way I like it.
Yammer, the great corporate IM service/product, was bought by Microsoft this summer for $1.2Billion(US). Many of us wondered if Yammer could survive or would be simply left alone (more or less like Skype). s it turns out Yammer looks to be a source for not only changes to Microsoft products — to be integrated with Skype it’s rumored into a new Office Suite in the sky –, but also as a corporate culture changer for the Redmond giant itself. Microsoft could undergo a change from email culture to IM culture as IBM did famously over a decade ago. This is not just about Yammer as a communications tool though. PC World reports that Yammer’s quick incremental release culture is being touted as a culture changer for developers. “Specifically, Microsoft sees great value in the way Yammer introduces weekly changes and new features to its cloud-hosted suite and then closely monitors their usage to determine if they are useful to customers.”
I’ll be speaking at the North Carolina Research and Education Network Community Day on Thursday November 15 at Elon University.
I offered a poll to NCREN attendees on which they could vote on the topic about which I would speak. The clear winner: #noemail.
Yes I am on a panel on Disruptive Technology at @Internet_Summit on Thursday (Nov 8 ) in #Raleigh talking about alternatives to email and #noemail. Do drop by. [Registration required].
Also on the panel will be David Morken of Bandwidth, Richard Kouri of NCSU, David Giambruno of Revlon, and John Funge of BrightContext.
I spent a delightful, if early, morning on Saturday (Nov 3) as a guest of La Barba Rossa and his wife Old Shoes on the Mystery Roach show at NCSU’s WKNC 88.1FM.
La Barba Rossa specializes in relatively obscure musics of the 60s and 70s mostly of the progressive rock genre plus Fusion, Psychedelic, Garage, and noise. That means I could request and get some play for early Mothers of Invention “Who Are The Brain Police?” (1966) even though WKNC no longer has turntables. La Barba Rossa also found and played the obscure Gene Clark song “Elevator Operator” but I’m not sure if we were hearing the version that I recall (at the link in this sentence). [Yes I have both LPs on vinyl].
Old Shoes, who is also Mrs. La Barba Rossa, is a PhD student in NCSU’s Communication, Rhetoric and Digital Media program which enriched the #noemail part of the conversation.
A fun couple of hours of music and talk back at my undergrad institution. And amusingly the music was pretty much of the period of my undergrad years (68 – 72).
La Barba Rossa promises that he’ll post a version of the show soon. I’ll add a link here once I have it.
La Barba Rossa is cleaning the copyrighted material (the songs) from the show. In the meantime, here’s a look at the talk I did at NCSU Computer Science for the Fidelity Investment Leadership in Technology series. Note the “I voted EARLY” sticker.
I had a great time revisiting the Computer Science Department at North Carolina State last week. A very friendly, but smart crowd of folks and great hosts. There will be a video here eventually, I hear.
Kam Woods points me (and now you) to Beevolve’s “An Exhaustive Study of Twitter Users Across the World” done with Beevolve’s own analytics software. Nice findings here that support some of the recent Pew studies. “A twitter user on average has 208 followers” But most, 81%, have 50 followers or less. Amusing display of theme colors vs gender and much more. Fun and informative.
@mattnowak1 alerts us to “How to Break Free from Email Jail”
by Daniel Markovitz at Harvard Business Review’s blog network from this past August. Among other things in this brief article is a fairly unique use of Dropbox for social sharing. Not just for upload and download, but for group work management. Recommended.
Speaking of brief, Thorin Klosowski at TechCrunch’s Life Hacker turns in two slim paragraphs and a large graphic to make us aware of “Notify Me Not,” a web app that opts you out of notifications from services like Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest and the like — or don’t like. Simple and deadly.