End of email?

I am not a great blogger – and so one of the things I do is write posts (in a file called psuedoblog) and then I don’t post them! Well under my resolution to post more often I thought I should have a clearout of my psuedoblogs. So this is actually an entry that I wrote some time ago – if you care to work out when there are clues in what follows :-).

I was talking to John Naughton, Tony Hirst and Martin Weller just after they had given a talk about academic blogging. They are much better at it than I am so if they have reflections then read those – just looked and Martin has put his slides on Slideshare and blogged about the session. Anyway what I want to talk about is not their talk (which I missed!) but how we got onto talking about the complete dysfunctionality of email. I had been thinking about this beforehand with my own collection of unread messages, intended responses, copied in messages to me, copied in messages from me (sorry if yours is in that mix by the way!) and feeling that there has to be a better way. Two particular things are getting to me – not knowing who to send replies to and ending the day with messages that I have written and not sent (the peril of having two computers, three screens and far too many windows open at once).

Not sure what the solution is but a hybrid of blogs, email and wiki might be a candidate. My first idea was “publicreplies.com” where instead of replying to individuals I would reply publicly to any questions that might warrant it. I then looked and somebody has beaten me to it and registered publicreplies.com – and their concept and implementation probably overlaps with my idea. It is a wordpress.com blog with lots and lots of categories. My next idea was the wiki link – I had just pasted an email trail (about how we need to encourage experimentation in the OpenLearn project BTW) into a private wiki area and thought that in my old Unix days I would have been able to automate all that. Set up a pseudo-email, pipe the message through a couple of filters and automatically add to the wiki. Looking around it was not obvious that such a tool exists but that there are some others looking into it.

4 Responses to End of email?

  1. Grainne says:

    Boy do i agree with you Patrick – I dread opening my email if i have been away for a few days and feel just keeping on top of it takes far far too long – I think your suggestions are great – lets think laterally and come up with something better!!!

  2. Pingback: e4innovation.com » Blog Archive » Papers versus blogs, the argument continues…

  3. Nigel says:

    Yes! Yes! Yes!

    I work in the office two days each week and dread the first couple of hours wading through hundreds of messages. Some are valuable, some are about a car in the car park with its lights on (often two days ago so it wasn’t mine), and some are long discussions between a couple of people who feel it might be useful if a large section of the university can see their deliberations. The idea of a hybrid is very attractive (but so is the idea of driving round the country taking the keyboards away from some folk :-))

  4. Patrick says:

    Thanks for the comments (I appear to be just as slow at dealing with blog comments as I am with email). I have carried on thinking about this and do feel that the current model is a pretense of instant communication and my own actual usage is as some sort of file system. So nothing gets deleted and it is part of my Google desktop pile of stuff that I search through. However – it carries with it a burden of guilt and risk that I have missed something vital. There must be a better way!

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