If I took it seriously, I could spend all day dealing with my email and never do any actual work. Which is why, increasingly, I tend to ignore my inboxes. This may seem discourteous, but in fact it isn’t – because much of ‘my’ email isn’t actually aimed primarily at me at all. I am just one of the people who is cc’d on the correspondence. In other words, people who are communicating with one another have added me as a kind of bystander. Their motives for doing this are varied. In some cases they are doing me a courtesy, or trying to persuade me that they’re not doing things behind my back. (Little do they know that I couldn’t care less.) In other cases, they are simply being lazy or covering their arses in case anything goes wrong, at which point they will say that I was ‘kept in the loop’ and accordingly must share some of the blame.
The problem is not with email as such, but with the way organisations have subverted – or perverted – it for bureaucratic purposes. And they have done it for the same reason that spammers have perverted personal email: because it’s cheap and easy to do.
Read this item from the Guardian Unlimited with email commentaries from the San Francisco Chronicle, WIRED, C|Net’s Digital Kids blog and Nora Ephron (free version, courtesy of the Herald Tribune, of the for-a-fee New York Times article). Previously from WNM: Maybe the utlimate question…are we any better off?