E-mail: the good, the bad and the ugly

I’ve never worked in an office, so I don’t have personal experience, but from what I’ve heard people say, email seems to be the ruination of many a psyche or project or office. Someone talking recently about a government department over here said that when emails are received, people spend more time analysing who has been CCed, than on the content of the email. If I ever run my own company, I’ll give employees the time to concentrate and allow them to clock-off properly. Email is great. It’s not email's fault that people use it to abuse colleagues and underlings. When someone sends an email dripping with unwarranted stress factors, I imagine it’s like a drone strike; it’s done remotely, so there’s probably not much need to feel bad about adding another straw on the donkey's back, figuratively speaking. Hopefully, some companies will start seeing where email is good and where it’s bad and use it judiciously.

This gets me thinking about my favourite ever use of email, namely the email list. I’m not talking about lists that just send you newsletters or information updates. I’m talking about email discussion lists. They used to be a thing. I’m not sure they still are; you never hear of them. A few months ago. I was feeling nostalgic for email lists and went looking for some on tinternet. I found zilch; not a sniff. Once upon an olden time, I was on a computer-related list, and a writing-related list…and oh yeah… I was on a haiku list too. What I remember liking about this method of discourse was the simplicity and openness. Getting on an email list required you to just jump through one low easy hoop, a hoop you were already used to using. Contrastingly, signing up to web forums, web apps, mobile apps etc. tends to require more hoops to jump through or higher hoops. And each insists on being different, which always slows you down. And these 'hoop' issues continue after sign-up. You have to mentally juggle them all. It’s cognitive load. I suppose I miss the lack of complexity. I sometimes wonder why web forums won out over email discussion lists. Mind you, web forums are pretty old hat these days too. If the whole World gets funnelled into using the same two or three apps, which seems to be what’s happening, then that reduces complexity, but not in a healthy way.

(it was 's post about email anxiety that started me on the above)