The E-Mail Rebellion
By Dick Kaser
Ever had one of those days, when at the end of it, you said, "Man, all I got
done today was my e-mail"?
Last fall, I heard David Snowden speak at the ASIST meeting in Philadelphia.
As you may know, Snowden is one of those knowledge-management gurus. I'm afraid
I lost my notes, so I may not have his words exactly right, but what I heard
him say that day, and what has stuck with me ever since, is this sentiment: "E-mail
is the biggest drain on productivity that companies have ever enacted upon
There are some days when I certainly would agree with this. Other days, I
The barrage of spam, of course, is one thing. Dailyand even at the
officeI receive countless offers for products to restore, enhance, or
extend my body parts. There are the messages from the Far East, sent to me
in characters my computer doesn't recognize, so they display as gibberish.
And of course there are those urgent pleas for assistance from the Nigerian
money-scammers. All of these are easily identified as items for deletion. They
eat up some processing time, but trashing them doesn't take a whole day.
No, it's not the spam that gets to me. It's not the spam that makes me feel
some days as if my brain is hot-wired to a streaming data flow and my only
purpose for being is to act as a remote peripheral device for handling random
requests on a 24/7 benchmark.
On the one hand, I lament, how did we, as a workforce, ever get into the
trap of equating e-mail messaging with instant gratification for the sender?
On the other hand, I have to admit, how did I ever become convinced that
it was my primary mission to process all my e-mails instantaneously upon receipt?
If I feel like an automaton some days, well, maybe it's at least partly my
The best days are certainly those that at the end of which I say, well, I
may have been sitting in my e-mail box all day, but the stuff coming to me
actually helped me achieve my top priority. Without e-mail, I don't know how
I would have ever gotten this job done.
what do you say? E-mail: blessing or curse? You tell me.
Dick Kaser is Information Today, Inc.'s vice president of
content. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.