So, I am really digging the Google+ thing, but I am worried that it is going to become the time suck monster that Facebook became, and unfortunately, in just days of joining the service it seems I’ve offended my first person.
I live in North Carolina, and one of the people I’ve had the opportunity to interact with is Paul Jones. It’s a little late and I’m tired, so I’ll spare you his list of accomplishments, but let’s just say I’m a fan.
When I saw that he was on G+ (all us cool kids call it “G+” yo), I added him to my circles.
I’m a groovy, hip cat, Daddio.
Now many weeks ago he started an experiment to go entirely without e-mail. Note that he is a technologist and not some guy living off the grid in the hills, so this was a big deal. I wanted to contact him to ask about it, but my default form of contact is e-mail, so that wouldn’t work out so well. I thought about calling him, but I hate phone calls since they are so interrupt driven. Then I thought I could call him up and ask him out to lunch, but my schedule won’t allow it.
Anyway, I never had the chance to talk to him about it until today when I saw him post about it on G+. He was interviewed on a local television station and they posted a 45 second spot on his project. He commented “Kinda covers it” and so I watched it.
I didn’t think it covered it at all. Maybe a nice introduction, but it basically went on for 30 seconds about the fact that people get too much e-mail, and then it had 15 seconds of Paul saying he wasn’t going to use it anymore.
Anyway, with his G+ post, here was my chance to ask him about it. Yay! I wrote a several paragraph reply on how I couldn’t see replacing the workflow I’ve built with e-mail with any social technology, and I ended it with “I think any tool, including social media, can be useful. But I wouldn’t be so fast to dismiss e-mail simply because a lot of people don’t know how to use it.”
Note that all the other comments were Twitter-sized attaboys, which while nice to get for the writer, don’t necessarily move the debate forward. But I guess I should have known better than to try to have a thoughtful discussion via the Internet. Paul was obviously miffed, and his reply included the comment “Chill pill time?” which I’m not sure was warranted.
As I have said in the past, I am a huge fan of e-mail. But I spend a lot of time optimizing it. Lately I’ve been able to keep my inbox below 30 most of the time, but that is through a combination of bogofilter and heavy use of procmail rules. Plus I’m a big fan of Bill Jensen’s CLEAR methodology.
I just can’t see any other way that I can provide a better service to my customers using current resources than through e-mail. We support customers around the world in 24 countries (with people in 5 countries), and running their questions through an e-mail based ticketing system is the most cost effective solution. Yeah, I’d love to be like Rackspace and have the ability to answer every phone call within 3 rings, but to do that I’d need to at least double my prices. And we won’t hesitate to pick up the phone when conditions warrant.
In addition to e-mail we use XMPP for instant messaging, and Skype for company meetings like the daily scrum call. So we do use technologies to augment e-mail, but none are set to replace it.
My number one concern is the welfare of my clients. Even above my love of open source my clients come first. If there is a better way to help them I want to know about it.
I haven’t learned anything from noemail that is helpful. Paul did write “My point is that email is unnecessarily at the center of our current communications” to which I can’t disagree, but it’s a little light when it comes to options. He started off his reply with “Almost too much to address here” which is even more frustrating, since if I can’t discuss it on G+, where? Twitter?
I know a number of programmers who severely limit their e-mail use, which I think is cool. In my daily job, however, which can revolve around support, dealing with quotes and invoices, scanning and mailing documents to places like Egypt, e-mail is great and indispensable. Plus it beats the heck out of snail mail.
So, I reach out to you, my three readers, and ask for your opinions on noemail. Is e-mail the new snail mail, as the news program suggests, or is it just that people don’t know how to use it well? How does e-mail play in your daily lives?
And feel free to use more than 140 characters.
UPDATE: Okay, now the story starts to become clearer. Someone on the local WRAL television website posted a lot of rather asinine comments with the username “balog”. That ain’t me, but as I can say without tooting my own horn that I am probably the highest profile Balog in the tech sector around these parts, I can see why Paul would have a huge prejudice against anything I would say as he obviously thought we were one and the same.
Now I definitely owe him lunch and I’m pretty weirded out about this “balog” person.