Smoothwall Firewall project

Saturday 28 June 2014

Is using email still relevant? Hell yes

I have been working in IT long enough to remember many changes in technology usage. I can remember just missing out on having to use punch cards to get my programs loaded into the mainframe.

So I can remember a time when people seriously did not think that email would or could be useful. I have actually worked in companies where the senior managers would get their secretaries to print out their emails and give them to them on paper. I can also vividly recall the many hours spent convincing these people of the benefit of email , and how it could save them time and money.

If you look at the world today through your 21st Century eyes, you would probably find those sentiments cute, if not funny, however I'm beginning to hear statements in my technology reading about the post email era, and I really think this would be a bad thing for many busy people.

I know we all get fed up with the spam we get, and the unsolicited contacts etc. but with a well set up email configuration, and not clicking on all those "send me updates" boxes, this can be controlled fairly easily.

Now I'm not some techno Luddite arguing from the sidelines as your knowledge gets swept away with yesterdays chip papers, but from a very practical perspective. I have shifted to using the mobile technology paradigm like everyone else, and use Whatsapp, Facebook Chat, Twitter and Wechat as well as the next man, but they have a big drawback. They are all great tools and I can see a use for them going forward , no doubt. However on your mobile devices they demand your attention , and are constant interrupts to your busy day. They are like a nagging yappy dog , constantly demanding to get in your face. Yes you can turn them down or the notifications off , but you have just killed 9/10ths of the usefulness of them in the first place. They are either in your face , or why bother using them at all?

The absolute beauty of email is it's asynchronous nature, and you can choose the time and place that you wish to read or respond to what has arrived in your inbox. It has also got thirty years of tooling development surrounding it, so finding and dealing with issues that took place a year ago is a breeze. Try doing that with Whatsapp - good luck with that.

Skype does a better job than most for recording what you have been up to with conversations, but it is still time limited. You can literally search you email threads from the day you opened your account, which has saved my bacon on more than one occasion.

I think the tricks to using email wisely are to be ruthless on your inbox, make sure you have a sensible structure with the folders/tags of the email you wish to keep and constantly look to help your spam engine to get rid of rubbish.

I'm sure email will be replaced at some point with probably more human friendly methods of communication , like video or on-the-fly video conversation recording. The main issue there will be the extremely complex nature of search, not a trivial issue with video. Lets hope the worlds computer scientists are on the case as I type ;-)

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