The title says it all Give Up Email Altogether
Read and heed.
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.
Okay so Denmark-based Exformatics does have a dog in the fight; they make and market the Anywhere app which let’s you manage activity streams more effectively on your mobile devices. But that also means that they will soon have an even deeper understanding of activity stream management throughout their company.
First payoffs? During #nomail January, all email use dropped 55% and yielded streams of more focused and better shared information. Largest drops in email use was among management — less meaningless CC, acknowledgements, “here’s my report,” etc. “CTO Morten Marquard managed to cut the amount of emails to 1/3 compared to November 2011.”
“We spend a disproportionate amount of time reading, contemplating and answering emails, that could have been dealt with far more rapidly and more efficiently face to face, in the activity stream or via the designated task concept in our intranet solution. We want to get rid of internal emails. Externally, we have to use email for communicating with customers and suppliers – at least for now,” Morten Marquard, CTO in Exformatics says.
The substitute for internal emails is activity streams – the business oriented equivalent of statuses in e.g. Facebook, Google+ and other social media. The activity stream is central in the solution for intelligent Enterprise Content and information Management that is used by the employees. Instead of filling up individual inboxes with notes, questions, tasks, these can be shared on a specific activity, case or project. This way, employees with already full schedules get rid of context switching and interruptions from email popups.
During the time I was engaging with the comment stream for yesterday’s News and Observer article, most recently titled “Paul Jones has said good bye and good riddance to email”. I made a little chart explaining the relationship between age and email attitude:
Under 16 = what’s email?
16 – 25 = email is for The Man
25 – 35 = my Boss makes me use email, but I usually text when I can
35 – 50 = I wish I could quit email but I want to be The Man
50 – 70 = I am The Man. How can I possibly … w/o email?
70 – ?? = what’s email?
Interestingly enough, the categories aren’t supported just by my experience and by the various Pew studies that I’ve kept up with for my classes, but also by a nice chart included in Hootsuite CEO Ryan Holmes’ same day article in Fast Company “Email is the Pony Express–And It’s Time to Put It Down.”
Ryan also includes a 5 point indictment of email. Briefly, email is: an unproductivity tool, not collaborative, not social, a black hole, and finally a very bad way to share documents. Yes, you heard it here first (unless you got it from @elsua earlier), but Ryan’s article does a very good job of clear statements of these problems. Recommended.
Not to be left out Alexis Madrigal at The Atlantic notices that there is a “Dark Social: We Have the Whole History of the Web Wrong” in which he discovers that most sharing in person to person is via IM and email and so is unlikely to be traced except by inference in studying reference logs at websites like The Atlantic. Madrigal offers some good data from some reliable sources — again including The Atlantic web logs — but the definition of Dark Social and the question of influence remains open for further discussion. For example, an article gets hot on Reddit or –according to Mardigal– hits various listservs or whatever. That’s when it really takes off. But that is the exception. “Day after day, though, dark social is nearly always [The Atlantic’s] top referral source.”
The real question here is what is the “whatever,” the “Dark Social.” Is it text, IM, email, listservs, forums, a stop at the water cooler? And more interesting even to me, are there trends in movement toward mobile, toward IM, toward text or even toward email?
David Menconi wrote a nice — and mostly correct — article about my way of doing #nomail that came out today as “Email-free UNC-CH professor set to prove there are better ways to communicate.”
I would write more, but SOMEONE ON TEH INTERNETS IS WRONG! And I must straighten them out.
Thanks to Travis Long for the good photo that goes along with the article.
In the box that accompanies the article there are a couple of errors:
“Opened” should be “OpenID”
“RS web feeds for Liters” should be “RSS web feeds for Listservs”
Repost of this announcement from last month. It’s coming up soon. This Thursday! See you there.
I’ll be one of the speakers in this fall’s Fidelity Investments “Leadership in Technology”
Executive Speakers Series at the North Carolina State University Computer Science Department on Thursday October 18 at 6 pm.
Who: Paul Jones
When: Thursday, October 18. 6 pm.
Where: Room 1231, EB2 aka Engineering Building II on NCSU’s Centennial Campus. The East half of EB2 is the Department of Computer Science (the West half being Electrical and Computer Engineering). EB2 is a large building – about two blocks wide – so it is worth paying attention to where you are. Classroom 1231 is close to the right end of EB2, on the main level.
What: #noemail – Why you could/should/must use better ways of communicating than email!
Abstract: Nearly 30 years ago Paul Jones began working on unified messaging systems leading from Call-OS, USENET, WYLBUR, TSO, BITNET, DARPA, ARPA to modern (for its time) SMTP mail. That was then, and this is now. Email has become a zombie that doesn’t realize that it’s dead and falling apart, a vampire that sucks your life’s blood away slowly each night. You’ve probably noticed this yourself. Jones has put email behind him. In an attempt to atone for his part for inflicting email on UNC, he is exploring alternatives to email with a shotgun and a wooden stake (and Facebook, Twitter, Google+, etc.) as his tools. This talk with touch on the sad beginnings of email, offer some atonement for Jones’ part in the mess, and discuss trends and alternatives needed to achieve the Logic and Destiny of #noemail.
Official YouTube of the talk is now posted:
Audio podcast now available http://itunes.apple.com/us/itunes-u/digital-discussions/id554244100.
Prezi available: http://prezi.com/zqxglw0w5glu/when-good-sites-go-bad-and-how-to-save-them-archival-challenges-and-solutions-for-post-1995-websites/
I gave the 2nd monthly Digital Discussions session at the UNC Libraries back on September 13. The Prezi and audio podcast are now available as indicated above. The abstract for the talk follows:
When Good Sites Go Bad – And how to save them: Archival challenges and solutions for post-1995 websites
Before about 1995, preserving websites was a simple matter; you just copied the pages and saved them. The site could then be easily reproduced or moved forward even as the software and hardware that supported it evolved. Collections of pages were never obsolete (although some links may have broken).
As scripted, CGI enabled, and database driven websites became dominant, page-scraping showed itself for the Rube Goldberg solution that it is. Not only are these page-scraped collections a pale representation of the original, but they rarely represent the context, the interactivity or the totality of advanced sites.
To make matters worse, advances in software and hardware often completely break these websites. Each server upgrade is a time of endangerment and loss.
What’s an archivist to do? Continue to scrape pages with Archive-IT or Heritrix? Break sites into highly described atoms that we can preserve but in the process lose context and interactivity?
There is a better solution at hand. I will explain.
There we first find Verge writer Paul Miller fed up with email, and with the whole of the Interwebz, unleashes a blast about what he has missed lately by not reading email — people assume he got the email and when he didn’t. he missed out on some parties or told about a surprise party.
Note to social butterflies: keep your mail if you are over 35. Under 35s don’t expect their pals to have read messages as email. This last not noticed by Miller BTW.
Miller reflects on the first six months of his year off the Net of which his highly justified #noemail rant is one installment.
Next up is a TigerBeat-style interview with Aaron Levie, CEO of Box.com, — Box itself a better alternative to email for many activities. Especially for collaboration. Aaron feels burned by Wave. It didn’t work. It was too early. He claims that email works because it’s built on open standards (NB I have been involved in Open Source for just over a quarter century now). What Aaron misses is that Wave was also an open standard — and somewhere it still is or could be reused in an improved manner. So much for the basis of Levie’s claim that: “Email can’t die — it’s an open standard that works everywhere and for everyone.”
The very good news is that Levie’s own company is leading the way toward the final interment of email. Miller, on the other hand, comes off as little more than a techie forced to dress up unconvincingly as a Luddite, an amusing writer handed an offhand stunt script by his editor doing the best that he can — with a little help from his friends.
It’s not just spam. It’s not just phishing. Although both would be enough reason to go with a more whitelisted, mobile, terse, collaborative communications solution than email.
There’s also trolling as best seen done by the funny and offensive E-mails from an asshole at DontEvenReply.com
Of course, it’s NSFW at most places of work.
Be brave. Be steadfast. Be sane. Don’t even reply. Or better just go #noemail.