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.
@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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Erica goes about her #noemail experiment methodically and with some interesting assistance from some commercial software including her virtual, but part-time human, assistant, Susan. Susan is a nice touch, a custom autoresponder and junk mail deleter and summarizer of messages.
Overall, Erica — who is afterall running a consulting and speaking service — was able to save money by not doing email. She figures the profits this way:
First the cost of Susan: Susan spends about an hour a week on my email, so that’s a bit over $60/month in direct costs to me.
I went from spending 1-2 hours a day on email to 3-5 hours a week. That’s a savings of approximately 5 hours a week. At my consulting rate of $500/hour, that’s a $10,000/month savings.
Of course, not every hour I saved could be billed out at $500. But even if every hour I save is worth $50 (and I think that’s a fair assumption), I saved $1,000/month
Okay, so somewhere between $1K and $10K per month in savings as measure only during the one month of June/July. That’s a very broad somewhere across a very specific time frame. I would definitely question those results if submitted to me as a research paper by a student. Nonetheless, this isn’t a research paper as much as a personal testimony by someone who is putting her business on the line. That’s the power of Erica’s experiment. And the results when seen in that context are very promising.
As Erica says:
In other words, unchaining myself from email massively benefited me in terms of both having more time and having a better emotional state (which is, frankly, priceless.) I don’t hate waking up and getting on the computer any more. That’s huge.
The latest Pew Internet study on smartphone highlights the strong generational differences in how we access and use the internet in America. Only 19% of the respondents over 50 had smartphone compared to 52% of those between 18 and 29. Of those smartphone owners, 99% of those between 18 and 29 had sent or received txt messages, but only 78% of those over 50 had participated in txt communication (I’m presuming that those who did were communicating with people 18 – 29 ;->). The difference in accessing social networking sites was even greater with 76% of the younger group being social on their phones compared to 32% of those over 50 years of age. The groups were closer when it came to email access on their smart phones 82% to 62%.
What to make of these numbers? First that owning smartphones, using them for txting and mobile social networking are normative for the millennial generation. For the Boomers and beyond, owning a smartphone is far from normative and mobile social networking is quite rare.
My claim in the #noemail project is that communications were becoming more mobile, more social, valuing the fast more integrated and brief — and will include location awareness. The Millennials are not only leading the way but have made those behaviors a normal part of their everyday lives.
The report discusses the results of two studies, one experimental and one a survey.
The experimental study found that “cyberloafing” in the place of conventional (non-internet) rest time between tasks increased productivity by 16% — and by over 39% over workers who merely changed tasks and took no breaks at all.
In the second study, a survey of randomly selected alumni of a business school, the participants were asked to differentiate between surfing and email while discussing their “psychological engagement with their work, and their positive and negative affect, or mental state”.
The findings of this study include:
– Amount of Internet browsing is significantly and positively related to such upbeat mental states as excited, interested, alert, and active, and inversely related to such negative mental states as distressed, fearful, hostile, and jittery.
— Amount of e-mailing activity, in distinct contrast, is significantly related to negative mental states but not to upbeat ones.
Martin Marks writing in the humorous Shouts & Murmurs section of the New Yorker last October anticipates ShortMail, various email manifestos and even the #noemail project. Marks dives headlong into funny excess of rules and restrictions and denials. Recommended.
Dear Friend, Family Member, Loved One, and/or Business Associate:
Thank you for your e-mail, which, if it is under three (3) sentences long, I have read. Owing to the large volume of e-mails I’m receiving at this time, please note that it will sometimes take up to fourteen (14) calendar days, though sometimes longer (and sometimes much longer), to respond to your e-mail; in the interim, please rest assured that I am attempting to address, resolve, or think about the matter you have described, unless, of course, I’m avoiding the matter entirely…
First this and other postings over the past year in the NYTimes Style section about the digital interface with life or somesuch show that social media has grown from technology and business into social phenomena worthy of sharing the page with essays on skirt length, fall colors, weddings and the like. I don’t mean this to be snide, but to underscore what Barry Wellman asserted — most strongly in the title of “The Internet and Everyday Life” — that the digital is life as we know it and not separate from the other parts of our lives but deeply intertwined.
But rushing ahead from that, “For the Plugged-In, Too Many Choices” describes the chaotic world of choices for digitally enable social interaction or as the URL says: Digitally Fatigues Networkers Try New Sites But Strategize To Avoid Burnout (.html).
Varieties of managing multiple networks and setting priorities are mentioned through anecdotes and vignettes including considering talking to your dinner partner rather than posting that you are at dinner on FourSquare. The particularly heinous habit of queuing up postings for timed release throughout the day is suggested!
One bright spot is yet another testimony for Fred Stutzman‘s wonderful Freedom which takes you off the net (only for laptops and desktops but not for phone or tablet) for up to 8 hours.
What does this have to do with #noemail? Just look at how email is mentioned in this article:
According to Nielsen, social networking is now the most popular online activity, ahead of sending e-mails, searching the Internet and playing games.
“I already feel like I’m experiencing slow death by e-mail.”
“Everyone is still talking about filing e-mail bankruptcy”
The only thing worse than social overload is… email.
According to the New York Times, coaches may contact players by Twitter direct messages, but not by TXT; by Facebook Messages, but not by Facebook Chat — and public Wall posts are out of the question. Email and phone calls are allowed, but the prospective players won’t take those — afterall they are under 25 (see studies earlier in this blog).
A trusted resident expert in this house claims that the unifying theme is banning public communications while allowing private ones. The exception for SMS aka TXT, he says and the article supports, is because the person receiving the TXT also receives a charge if unlike most TXTing teens the prospect doesn’t have an unlimited TXT plan.
One hole in his, or more likely in the NCAA’s, logic is the difference between Chat and Messaging. Both are private and with the new Facebook Mobile Messenger app both are unified and merged in the same inbox. The trend as seen at Facebook and in Google Plus is to unify the inbox and the activity streams into a personally manageable environment.
That’s what the players are telling the coaches. We don’t take calls. We don’t do email. We want communications mobile. We want them short and interactive. Twitter is TXT without the NCAA restrictions. Facebook Messages aren’t email.
If trends mean anything, the analysis by the pollsters at Pew miss the point of their own data. Whilst the title for the report is “Search and email still top the list of most popular online activities”, the use of email has remained flat — dropping 1% really, but statistically insignificant — since 2002. Searching rose from 85% to join email at 92% (since 2002). But social network use, which was not even measured until 2005, begins at 11% and is up to 65% by 2011’s survey.
Email fans shouldn’t get all that excited by the report as the data underlying the report show communications trends that will move us all from email even in the immediate term. Note also that email alternatives were not measured giving some confusion to the frequencies of communications.
The release is interestingly coincides with reports that use of RIM Blackberry BBM has outstripped the use of Facebook and Twitter — in the London riots (only).
I’ve had Beluga on my phone but not done too much with it (running txt thru Google Voice to save charges ;->). Looking to download Messenger now. Let me know if you’ve found and are trying it. At the moment, https://www.facebook.com/mobile/messenger says “Messenger will be available soon. Please check back later.”
In most of this interview with John Battelle and Tim O’Reilly at the Web 2.0 Summit 2010 conference last fall, Mark Zuckerberg talks about replacing email with Facebook Messages — why FB Msgs isn’t email and why email is broken hopelessly — and how the Facebook Social Graph changes everything.
This talk and Sheryl Sandberg’s earlier talk convinced me that Facebook, not Google or Microsoft or Yahoo or others, would be the ones to succeed in creating better data portability, better messaging and activity streams. Interestingly, much of what Zuckerberg talks about concerning user control of data are addressed in Google + Circles, Google Checkout and Google+ itself.