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Is Email 'Bankrupt'?

Zonk posted more than 6 years ago | from the knew-i-shouldn't-have-bought-all-that-stock dept.

Communications 387

Gary W. Longsine writes "The Washington Post writes about a Venture Capitalist and blogger, Fred Wilson, who recently declared 'e-mail bankruptcy', wiping out his inbox and starting over because he couldn't keep up. Spam is cited as one reason. There have been several public incidents, some cited in the article, where the flow of email is just too much to keep up. 'If there is a downside to completely turning a back on e-mail, it's not one many former users notice. Stanford computer science professor Donald E. Knuth started using e-mail in 1975 and stopped using it 15 years later. Knuth said he prefers to concentrate on writing books rather than be distracted by the steady stream of communication.' Is email just too hectic a communication form for some people? Is email dead?"

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I don't know... (5, Funny)

Chris Chiasson (908287) | more than 6 years ago | (#19270139)

but when I figure it out, I'll shoot you an email.

Spam is not a problem for me (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19270747)

I have a few email accounts that I use when registering myself with online businesses. Some of them get a lot of spam, but it doesn't matter because I only look at them maybe once a year and am only interested in very recent emails anyway.

I have another email address for personal communication. I only give it out to people directly, and I instruct them to not type it in to web forms that say "send this to a friend!" Once in a while they do anyway, and I nag them about it. It usually lasts a good three or four years before it starts getting spam, at which point I just create a new one and tell all my friends/relatives to start using the new one instead...and just delete the old one.

Works great.

Its morally bankrupt. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19270169)

No, sexually bankrupt actually.

Re:Its morally bankrupt. (4, Funny)

eviloverlordx (99809) | more than 6 years ago | (#19270247)

No, sexually bankrupt actually.

So that's why I keep getting all of those Viagra and Cialis spams.

Re:Its morally bankrupt. (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19270275)

no you get those because of ignorant people that have you email address and then let themselves get compromised.

Re:Its morally bankrupt. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19270453)

Have you ever seen headers in spam email that go something like this: abc@xyz.com,abd@xyz.com,abe@xyz.com,etc? A lot of them are just blanketing the name space since i would guess most email addresses aren't that long.

Obligatory... (0, Redundant)

Jeff Carr (684298) | more than 6 years ago | (#19270179)

Email is dead, Netcraft confirms it.

Re:Obligatory... (5, Funny)

hotdiggitydawg (881316) | more than 6 years ago | (#19270751)

Email is dead, Netcraft confirms it.
As dead as the late Prince Namuga Abacha, may God rest his soul, whose inheritance I will soon be acting as an intermediary on as soon as the legals have been cleared, which seem to be costing a bit of money. Now where did I put my checkbook?

Of course! (3, Insightful)

AutopsyReport (856852) | more than 6 years ago | (#19270189)

Judging by the millions of people who use email every second, I think it's safe to place bets on email being dead.

Re:Of course! (4, Funny)

ender- (42944) | more than 6 years ago | (#19270379)

Judging by the millions of people who use email every second, I think it's safe to place bets on email being dead.
Yup. Nobody goes there anymore. It's too crowded. :)

Re:Of course! (4, Interesting)

porkThreeWays (895269) | more than 6 years ago | (#19270623)

Dead? No. Annoying as shit and wastes a lot of my time? Hell yes.

But then again, so are computers in general, and cell phones, and almost any other modern communication technique that allows you to exchange information instantly. You as a person are expected to instantly reply to that information. That's like declaring the telephone dead 30 years after invention. It's really annoying sometimes, but no where near dead.

People are too easy to distract (5, Insightful)

MoneyT (548795) | more than 6 years ago | (#19270229)

The joy of email is you don't have to answer it right away. If the email you are getting is keeping you from doing real work, then it's because you being to OC over checking and replying and researching every email that comes your way every 15 minutes. Stop checking it so often and learn to prioritize and it's no longer a distraction.

Re:People are too easy to distract (5, Insightful)

rubycodez (864176) | more than 6 years ago | (#19270331)

and you don't have to answer a phone every time it rings. if you are talking with someone and they answer their cell phone, immediately walk away

Re:People are too easy to distract (1)

cromar (1103585) | more than 6 years ago | (#19270489)

You know, I'm going to start doing that.

I wish..... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19270559)

I wish that girl had done the same thing when I got the call from the STD clinic.

Re:People are too easy to distract (5, Insightful)

simm1701 (835424) | more than 6 years ago | (#19270619)

I go somewhere in between.

I apologise to who I am talking to, look who is calling, if its someone that's important I'll answer and ask them to call back or offer to call them back.

If its an unknown or withheld it goes straight to the voice mail - same for any numbers I recognise as probably not being important enough right at that moment and either wait for them to leave (or text) a message or call them back myself later - then I'll usually put my phone onto silent and go back to the conversation, again with an apology

Leaving a phone ringing is equally annoying - its how someone deals with it when they answer it that makes the real difference

Re:People are too easy to distract (1)

EastCoastSurfer (310758) | more than 6 years ago | (#19270533)

Exactly! And that's also why I prefer to send and receive texts now instead of actually calling someone. A text is much less intrusive to someone than a call.

Re:People are too easy to distract (5, Insightful)

oni (41625) | more than 6 years ago | (#19270343)

Stop checking it so often

indeed. I have turned off the "you've got mail" icons and popups and such. I have a rule that will pop up a message if my boss emails me, but otherwise it's silent. When I get bored, I check my email.

That really is the key.

Re:People are too easy to distract (2, Insightful)

huckda (398277) | more than 6 years ago | (#19270375)

and don't know how to MANAGE e-mail...
perhaps they need a class in their middle-management coursework...
This is how you create a sub folder:
This is how you create a rule for filtering your incoming e-mails into a sub folder:
This is how you select a plethora of mail you have no interest in reading and how to delete it:
This is how to click on the little 'x' in the top right-hand corner of the e-mail application to close it and receive no more e-mail for the day(call it your DnD*do not disturb* button) ;)

Re:People are too easy to distract (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19270779)

click on the little 'x' in the top right-hand corner of the e-mail application to close it

I'm using a Mac you insensitive clod! It's in the top left corner!

Re:People are too easy to distract (1)

Threni (635302) | more than 6 years ago | (#19270401)

> Stop checking it so often and learn to prioritize and it's no longer a distraction.

Use filters, labels etc. Spam is only a problem if you have to receive and deal with reasonably promptly emails from people who've never emailed you before. I don't, so I only deal with emails from friends/family daily; I check my `inbox` (which I consider `dirty`, even after Google has automatically dealt with the spam because it's not perfect) when I can be bothered, adding anyone I've forgotten or recently given my email address to to my filters asap.

Email isn't perfect. Two things:

I have another account to which I bounce all my gmail, and it's that second account I log into and reply from when using internet cafes. I don't trust internet cafes, and by doing this I don't have to - the worst that can happen is that a friend temporarily believes that email from that account is actually from me. The sigfile on emails from that account remind people to reply to my main account, not that one.

At some point I'll create another gmail account and delete *all* email that's not forwarded from my regular gmail account. This will be safe to grab from a phone or some other slow/expensive device as I'll never give it out.

Ideally I wouldn't have to do all that. Email can be improved, no problem, but to claim it's dead or crap is a bit of an overstatement.

Re:People are too easy to distract (4, Interesting)

robably (1044462) | more than 6 years ago | (#19270423)

Stop checking it so often and learn to prioritize
A nice side-effect of this is that people stop expecting a reply from you immediately, and so tend to stop sending you so much pointless shit. It's win-win.

Re:People are too easy to distract (4, Insightful)

njchick (611256) | more than 6 years ago | (#19270543)

Sometimes I delay my reply on purpose even if I can reply immediately, so that people don't ask me questions they can answer themselves in 5 minutes.

Re:People are too easy to distract (5, Funny)

robably (1044462) | more than 6 years ago | (#19270645)

Ah, the evil approach to managing your email. I imagine you glower contemptuously at people who ask you stupid questions, too.

Re:People are too easy to distract (1)

Dr. Eggman (932300) | more than 6 years ago | (#19270595)

In the future, email shall become a sixth sense, much as we adapted visual (or auditory) senses as channels for communication, email shall inversely become adapted from a communication into a sense. Managed by complex multichannel filtering AI, we will begin to think "Ad for product; company is stupid" and "Incoming work; avoid, avoid."

Re:People are too easy to distract (2, Insightful)

overcaffein8d (1101951) | more than 6 years ago | (#19270609)

Well, I check Slashdot like every 2 minutes to check and read stories. I think that kills my concentration more than email.

Yes (1, Funny)

Himring (646324) | more than 6 years ago | (#19270237)

Yes. Email, computers and cell phones are all dead....

Yet again, I will shake my head that the editors turned down my ww2 tank find story (you know, where these guys in russia go out with metal detectors and find submerged german and russian tanks around kursk -- I think it was -- and restore them)....


Tanks? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19270461)


Who needs editors anyway? :)

Re:Yes (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19270487)

I want to hear more about this. Post a link!

The Relief and Visceral Joy of a Hard Drive Crash (5, Insightful)

BenEnglishAtHome (449670) | more than 6 years ago | (#19270239)

I've seen a related phenomenon at least a half-dozen times over the last couple of years. I work in a large organization where lots of people live and die by their email. Lots of computers also means a steady stream of drive failures. Despite all the warnings and training, some people will have no backups. Their entire careers, it seems, are in the contents of the Personal Folders they've created in Outlook and when I tell them it's all irrecoverably gone, they have a panic attack or something close to it.

Then, two days later, I run into them and they invariably tell me the same thing. They say that the loss of all that stored email was liberating. They feel free to work in the current moment instead of following up on old items that nobody *really* cared about anyway.

They were able to concentrate on what was important to their peers and bosses. Why? Because they told those people "All my email is gone; please re-send to me anything important" and found that what they got back was far less than they had been trying to keep track of previously.

I thought this was all very odd until I remembered how I lost my old ccMail files when we transitioned to Exchange so many years ago. I remember the feeling of having dropped the dead weight I'd been carrying for so long.

My point is that, no, email isn't dead. It is, however, an oppressive presence in the life of many people. Throwing it off and starting over, maybe greatly de-emphasizing its role, is not necessarily a bad thing.

Re:The Relief and Visceral Joy of a Hard Drive Cra (1)

Fizz753 (773692) | more than 6 years ago | (#19270585)

Long comment above translated: Ooops I just deleted the entire mail server database, sorry.

All kidding aside I agree with you. I have "started over" email wise a couple of times mostly due to my own "Umm did I forget to back those up before I reformatted??" moments. It can be quite liberating.

Re:The Relief and Visceral Joy of a Hard Drive Cra (1)

Connie_Lingus (317691) | more than 6 years ago | (#19270677)

amen to this comment...in fact, its almost a new trend these days. I have lately been telling colleagues to just reformat their hard drives (minus a few key files, of course) and start fresh with xp/ubuntu/fedora/etc. They look at me like I am crazy but EVERY SINGLE ONE of them that took my advice has come back and thanked me for the advice...they feel a huge sense of relief that there computers are no longer loaded with worthless junk that SEEMED important.

Re:The Relief and Visceral Joy of a Hard Drive Cra (1)

Vandilizer (201798) | more than 6 years ago | (#19270689)

You comment made me think back to an interview I heard a few days back on the CBC (Canadian radio) asking about whether computer should forget. I know it is great we have all this information at our fingers tips but at what point is it too much being able to sort though and make sense is a skill not many people have and begging able to ignore all the junk and think that are not importer even fewer people have.

With the shear amount of information being created and none of it going away EVER these days were becoming pack rats to the point where we even box up all our own feces and file it away for later examination. In the real world we would clean this up and throw it out every so often. So it is no surprise to me that when someone's slate is wiped clean (and all there shit is tossed out) in the computer world they feel so good after their initial shock of the loss. Most things that are critically important are backed up or have been passed around with other people who you are working on it with.

Any who if you would like to listen to it:
15/05/2007: Internet Memory - Technology that doesn't Forget
http://podcast.cbc.ca/mp3/current_20070515_2306.mp 3 [podcast.cbc.ca]

It's your problem (4, Insightful)

cyberianpan (975767) | more than 6 years ago | (#19270241)

Like many things in life some individuals can't cope. Being deluged by spam is a lame excuse - I use GMail - I sign up to all sorts of dubious services with it& have receievd 1 piece of spam so far.
At any time I've over 3 other email addresses, the key rule with them is to check them daily else I'll... get a backlog.
People whinging about email tell more about themselves than email.

Re:It's your problem (1)

Viol8 (599362) | more than 6 years ago | (#19270483)

"People whinging about email tell more about themselves than email"

No, it says that you've never worked in a big organisation where people firing off an email for every trivial point to entire groups is virtually company policy.

Actually I do work in big organisations (1)

cyberianpan (975767) | more than 6 years ago | (#19270667)

No, it says that you've never worked in a big organisation where people firing off an email for every trivial point to entire groups is virtually company policy.

Actually I do work in big organisations & yes I get quite a lot of "cc" mail. I reckon on bad days I get over 50 mails addressed to me as cc. First off: if I am cc I lightly skim mail, mostly I don't respond. Secondly: if someone cc's me on a very detailed mail (> 200 words), that wasn't discussed in advance with me: then they are making a mistake.
Same as everything else: I don't go to all meetings I'm invited to ( I pick the ones I need/want to go to). It's a simple matter of managing your productivity.
The only time I've ever been overwhelmed by mail was when I accidentally left my own email address in a "reply to" field of a bespoke error handling system. It mailed 6,000 people within the first 3 hours before I figured out what happened. My mistake.

Say 'no' (3, Insightful)

cerberusss (660701) | more than 6 years ago | (#19270243)

Seems some people have trouble saying 'no'. I have e-mail coming in, requesting me to do things, to think something through, to agree on something, god knows what.

So I say "no." No, I don't have time to think about it. No, I don't have to read this. No, I am not the one to agree with you on this.

I always reply, though, but sometimes just a polite "no". If you don't reply, that's when people start calling. What's next, declaring that the telephone is bankrupt?

No (1)

endianx (1006895) | more than 6 years ago | (#19270245)

It is ridiculous to even suggest that email is dead. Whether or not it is a dying technology I can not say, but I use email both at work and for personal use extensively. I would not be able to do so if I was the only one.

E-mail is a useful tool... (1)

PrinceAshitaka (562972) | more than 6 years ago | (#19270251)

and like any tool one needs to know how to use it properly.

Spam has never wasted a second of my time. Anything that makes it through my filter is ignored. I don't even bother to delete it.

If somebody starts sending me bloated useless emails, I just start innoring them.

I just think the problem is that some people who use email do not understand that you just have to ignore junk mail that comes. Just like with snail mail, it goes directly in the recycle bin. Do not bother reading it to make sure it is junk. You know it is junk. Ignore it. People just do not understand this. Junk also may include mail from people you know, friends, just ignore it. don't worry, be happy.

Saving email in the inbox (2, Interesting)

dawnzer (981212) | more than 6 years ago | (#19270255)

At my place of business, it seems the biggest hurdle people have with keeping up with email is organization. This is really noticeable with the older Civil Engineers in my office that didn't start out using email. I know one that just lets his inbox fill up until it gets near 1000 then has our IT manager archive it (the IT manager has tried explaining how to create new personal folders in Outlook, but it is a lost cause).

I know you need to save email for CYA situations, but what good does it do if you can't find the email you need?

Re:Saving email in the inbox (1)

n6kuy (172098) | more than 6 years ago | (#19270335)

> At my place of business, it seems the biggest hurdle people have with keeping up with email is organization.

At my place of business, it seems the biggest hurdle people have with keeping up with email is organizational email.

Everytime the Big Boss (or any of his underlings) sneezes, we get an email informing us of the fact...

You're doing it wrong (3, Insightful)

chipotlehero (982154) | more than 6 years ago | (#19270259)

Advanced filtering and tagging makes it easy to prioritize your email. If you don't have time to read your low priority email, then simply don't read it. There's no law saying you have to read every email you receive. It's stupid to turn your back on all your email just because you can't read some of it.

Re:You're doing it wrong (1)

Rob the Bold (788862) | more than 6 years ago | (#19270729)

Advanced filtering and tagging makes it easy to prioritize your email. If you don't have time to read your low priority email, then simply don't read it.

Filtering doesn't even have to be very "advanced" to work. I automatically filter out the low priority stuff in the inbox by finding the terms: "important" "improtant" "message" "letter" "email" and "note" in the subject + anything marked "high priority". It's amazing how unimportant an email is when the subject is "A message from John Smith". I know it's a message, I know it's from John Smith. If John Smith can't be bothered to give me any more clues than that in the subject, then into the "low priority" queue it goes.

spam filter not enough? (5, Insightful)

192939495969798999 (58312) | more than 6 years ago | (#19270263)

I find it hard to believe that if you filter out spam, news digests, etc. and are down to personal communications, that you are honestly getting too many unless you're the president. If you are getting that many and you're not being paid enough to hire help, you should seriously reconsider why it is you're getting that many emails. Those add up to a sizeable population and should probably equate to some kind of increase in responsibility, and ergo an increase in pay significant enough to employ an assistant.

I'm going to hire someone to read my e-mail... (5, Funny)

Cr0w T. Trollbot (848674) | more than 6 years ago | (#19270267)

...just as soon as I get that $7 million I have coming to me from a Nigerian Prince.

Crow T. Trollbot

Re:I'm going to hire someone to read my e-mail... (2, Funny)

SnarfQuest (469614) | more than 6 years ago | (#19270471)

He offered me $42,000,000 (forty too millian dallers).

He likes me more than you!

Not so bad (1)

ender- (42944) | more than 6 years ago | (#19270283)

It's strange. The email server that I control has pretty good spam filtering. Maybe one spam a month has been delivered to my inbox over the last year or so [with no false positives yet]. Ever since I implemented the current filtering I've started feeling like I hardly get any email at all. Other than a couple low-volume lists to which I'm subscribed, the only time I get email is when when my sister wants to ask me a question.

It turns out, most of the people I regularly communicate with online just use AIM/MSN/Jabber. This actually makes me a bit sad as I prefer email.

Maybe I should just stop using IM and force my friends to use email.

Sparsed out Communications (1)

the dark hero (971268) | more than 6 years ago | (#19270285)

I use e-mails at work as a way to post bulletins to co-workers, to send files and to contact customers when a phone call isn't necessary. My personal e-mail account is used for website registration/verification, newsletters and bills. Social Networking sites have eased the burden of sending your friends "e-mails."

Honestly, if i call someone a real friend i usually just phone or text them. So is e-mail dead? I say no. It's handy, but hardly the thing it might have been years ago.

What we have here is a failure to manage (4, Informative)

patio11 (857072) | more than 6 years ago | (#19270297)

I know having 2,500 emails unread would cause me stress. It used to. Here is how I learned to cope:

* POPFile to weed out the overwhelming majority of the spam. If you've got 4 spams to 1 legit email life seems pretty freaking unimaginably difficult, and nowadays my server inboxes are closer to 100 to 1. My actual client inbox is about 1 to 100 thanks to POPFile.

* Automatically filter automated emails (trade confirmations, bank statements, EBay whatever, anything without a human on the line) to a "I will probably never need this but just in case" folder. This generally requires setting up one rule in your client per business you do business with, or if you're like me you double up on the POPFile goodness and tag them all "auto" then just move based on that tag.

* Check email twice per day, moving every email out of the inbox after it is dealt with. Anything left in your inbox should be a pressing work matter -- if not, move it out, its done. In between my scheduled email checks I only fire it up if I'm looking to make some work for myself. If someone thinks they need a response immediately and I care that they think they need a response immediately, then they have my phone number.

* Get on with life.

Re:What we have here is a failure to manage (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19270601)

It is kinda funny how they were saying the same things about phones 10-20 years or so. Always getting interrupted with phone calls and such. I know a lot of people in my office only check email/check voice mail twice a day. Must be nice :) Though i get paid to do whatever and whenever they tell me to do stuff so i'm constantly at the beck and call of interruptions.

VC Blogger = a lot of e-mail (2, Insightful)

MontyApollo (849862) | more than 6 years ago | (#19270317)

I could see a blogger getting a lot of e-mail, doesn't that go with the territory. Especially a venture capitalst blogger, won't you get a lot of emails asking for money?

My spam filter works at removing the vast majority of my spam, but I only get 150-200 spam per day.

Email works for me because it doesn't force me to stop what I'm doing and pick up a phone. And you can send photos, documents, etc...

Email is far from dead for the average person.

One solution to spam (4, Interesting)

uradu (10768) | more than 6 years ago | (#19270321)

Since I've started using Gmail spam has been mostly a non-issue. Their spam filter is INCREDIBLY good, I maybe receive unfiltered spam a couple of times a month or so. I've pretty much given up on "heavy client" email apps, such as Thunderbird which I used before then. Now if they provided IMAP access to Gmail and mobile push access like Windows Live it would be perfect.

Re:One solution to spam (4, Informative)

AutopsyReport (856852) | more than 6 years ago | (#19270709)

Actually I find Thunderbird quite good. Up to last year I used Outlook until I found a need to organize emails belonging to multiple addresses, so I was recommended Thunderbird. In addition to doing what I wanted it to, Thunderbird also eliminated the spam I was receiving. Now spam is immediately sent to the Junk folder. Anything that snakes its way through is tagged as junk and I never see it again.

Obviously too stupid for email (2, Insightful)

Critical Facilities (850111) | more than 6 years ago | (#19270323)

If you're getting hundreds or thousands of spam emails every day in your inbox, then you clearly should find some other means of communication as it would seem that email is too tricky and complicated for you.

However, the rest of us who know enough to keep decent spam filters turned on and updated and have mastered the "secret art" of having several dummy email accounts to enter into various online forms (which will in turn get loaded with spam) will keep using this "bankrupt" communication tool. I get MAYBE 2 - 3 spam emails that get by my filters in a day. I get NONE at my work email (and yes, I send a fair amount of email). I just think it's a cop out for laziness when people claim to be drowning in spam. They've obviously made errors in judgement in the past and have "compromised" their email address. It may be time for a new address which should be protected and provided only to those who need it, but to forsake the entire medium is ridiculous.

Email less of an issue than IM (3, Insightful)

Cpt_Kirks (37296) | more than 6 years ago | (#19270341)

Email beats the shit out of IM. At least you can ignore email for a little while.

Not so with IM. When that frakking window pops up and starts flashing, it is almost impossible to ignore. I don't even have ANY IM software installed at home, but at work it is mandatory.


bah (3, Funny)

pytheron (443963) | more than 6 years ago | (#19270353)

Same thing happens with mobile numbers... too many stalker girls get a hold of it, and before you know it, you don't want to read your texts/listen to your answerphone. So you change your number and let people who you want to contact you have the new one. Simple. Works fine with mobiles. If someone really urgently needs to get hold of you, they will be able to. The same works for email addresses. Stop getting so attached to numbers/email addresses. They are only tools to facilitate contact.

email dead? (1)

grasshoppa (657393) | more than 6 years ago | (#19270359)

Uh no. If anything, the way some people handle email may be outdated, but that's about the most that can be said about it. Personally, I tell everyone to email me if they have something for me. Then, when I'm between projects or otherwise not occupied ( ie: slacking off ), I'll go through my inbox and pop things to do on the ol' corkboard. Low tech, sure, but it works. Then, I'll simply go through the cork board by priority and be done with it.

Some people want to spaz out over every bit of communication they receive, but once you learn to prioritize it the problem goes away.

Manage that email! (1)

creimer (824291) | more than 6 years ago | (#19270361)

Email isn't dead. Spam did kill my first email address after I had it for seven years. When I got my own domain, I created a general purpose email address and a email address for all the email lists I subscribe to. That and my ISP's anti-spam efforts has cut down on the amount of spam I get. Email is manageable if you get it organized first. Having 2,000+ emails sitting in your inbox is plain nuts.

i hate these "email is dead" stories (4, Interesting)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 6 years ago | (#19270365)

of course email is still useful, and it always will be

people like Fred Wilson and Donald E. Knuth i think are really just covering for a desire to be less social. which is not a bad instinct if you want to write a book or get some real work done, and to have a good cover story like "my email inbox is chock full, i can't deal with it" is a nice way to brush certain people off who otherwise might get offended

i have 2 email addresses. 1 everyone knows about, and it is usually barely looked at, full of crap that got in my inbox because i needed an email address to sign up for some site, sort-of friends and their useless and retarded forwarded email jokes, recruiters pumping job offers, etc. i'd say i read 1 out of every 25 emails for that address, and barely scan the headlines for the rest

the other address is piped to my blackberry and is paid attention too, as the only people who get it are family, close friends, work, etc

i think that's a good bifurcation to live with: a public email address and a private one. and it's an easy and obvious management idea. anyone could have figured it out

so to play this lame game of skewering email itself is just a cover story for a deeper desire to get away from the constant chatter of life. again, not a bad instinct, but it reveals that "oh noes! email is dead!" is not the real story here, never was, and never will be, even though you will always hear the refrain, time and time again, whenever someone wants to unplug and tell a white lie in order to do that without offending

Re:i hate these "email is dead" stories (1)

Niten (201835) | more than 6 years ago | (#19270681)

Oh, come on. Everybody knows that Knuth's abandonment of his email account was just a clever ploy to increase TeX market share, by forcing everyone to use it to write physical mail to him.

Re:i hate these "email is dead" stories (4, Interesting)

jfengel (409917) | more than 6 years ago | (#19270695)

According to the article, Knuth gave up on email in 1990. I know that as a Stanford processor he's on the cutting edge, but 1990 was way before email became something that everybody and his brother had. I suppose the term "spam" had been coined, but Canter and Siegel were still four years off. How much email could the man have gotten?

So I concur with you that he just didn't want to talk to people. And that's funny, because email is a wonderfully standoffish way to communicate. I'm not on the hook to respond immediately. You and I don't have to be ready to talk at the same instant, the way you do on the phone.

I just played phone tag for two weeks with one bastard who didn't return most of my calls. If he'd give me a freaking email address he could have dashed off a note with the binary answer I needed in 30 seconds any time he wanted. (Literally, all I wanted was a yes-or-no answer. Dipstick finally called me this morning.)

Of course, this is the same Don Knuth who proposed that programming classes should be taught without computers, and you expel any student who writes a compiler for the language you're teaching in. He wanted to get students to be good at paper debugging. So maybe the inventor of TeX is just a luddite.

Is email dead? (1)

Pedrito (94783) | more than 6 years ago | (#19270369)

Yeah, right, it's dead. What is this crap? So a handful of people have decided not to use e-mail. Allow me to point out that the other 99.9% of people who have it, are using it.

I use snail mail sparingly. In my mind, it's certainly deader than e-mail, but neither is "dead." What a stupid statement to make or question to ask. E-mail isn't going to disappear. God, we can only hope that it improves and, granted, it hasn't improved much. Some sort of certification system to put an end to spam and other unwanted e-mail will be a welcome upgrade, but it's far from dead without it. Spam filters do wonders. Despite a dozen or so spam e-mails a day (my provider does pretty good filtering), with my own spam filtering, maybe 1 a week gets through to where I actually have to look at it.

I couldn't do my job, as I do it, without e-mail. I work from home and have for many years. E-mail and IM are my lifelines to my co-workers. Email is more used today than it was just a year ago and continues to be used more and more every day. I don't see that changing any time soon.

No, but the way we deal with it will change (1)

digitalderbs (718388) | more than 6 years ago | (#19270381)

Spam is one thing, piles of legitimate e-mail is another. Some people have hundreds of issues a day, and if e-mail is abandoned, some other form of communication will take its place. The busiest people with large amounts of work-related e-mail have a secretary to filter and re-direct messages.

I agree (2, Insightful)

Crazy Taco (1083423) | more than 6 years ago | (#19270385)

I actually have to agree with this talk about bancruptcy. Honestly, email has gotten to the point where I can't keep up with it either. I'm a software developer, and I get so many emails at work that it can take me at least a couple hours in the morning just to read them all. When you only have an 8 hour workday, and two hours of it is spent emailing, that's clearly bad for the company. I delete 50% of them at least without even looking at more than the subject and senders name, because if it appears to be just another one of those FYI emails, I'm sure not wasting my time. Also, I know that email is not used for really critical communication. I know I can just delete the email, because if it is something really urgent, someone will call me about it.

Two other thoughts:

  1. Automated emails by machines should be banned, or at least restricted. As a developer, I am constantly getting emails from servers telling me that some job has run successfully, or that some automated procedure is done, and I couldn't care less. I just want to know when things fail. Unfortunately, I (like probably most developers) don't have any real control over the boxes I touch, and to make matters worse, much of these notification type things are the default behavior of systems.
  2. This situation also extends to phones and voicemail boxes. Ever since cell phones have come around, I have been so connected that I can't get away. People call all the time and can reach you anywhere, and if for some reason they can't get you, they leave a big long voice mail that you have to listen to later to catch up on. To get some control of my life back from these devices, I've taken to disabling voicemail and not answering my cell phone much of the time. I am not going to allow my life and my time be held hostage by my boss or whoever else wants to reach me at any time of the day, and that goes for email to.

One last thought: If you work in an office and use a modern email system like outlook, email rules/filters are your BEST FRIEND. I went from getting hundreds of emails a day to about 10 now due to how heavilly I filter things (and I'm not talking about spam; that's already removed by corporate spam filters and I never see any). I've essientially built such a wall around my inbox that only the high priority stuff gets through. And you know what? I've never once had anyone complain about me dodging email. Why no complaints, even though I really do ignore most people's emails? Because most email literally is so unimportant and trivial (and mass-mailed to so many people anyway), that ignoring it doesn't effect ANYTHING .

Re:I agree (1)

tweek (18111) | more than 6 years ago | (#19270669)

A few points:

Also, I know that email is not used for really critical communication. I know I can just delete the email, because if it is something really urgent, someone will call me about it.
You MIGHT want to clarify that with everyone in the world who will send you email. I agree that email is not an appropriate medium for critical communication but that doesn't mean it doesn't get treated that way. I've made it a policy where I work that if anyone has anything critical for me, they need to speak with me in real-time about it. Otherwise they will need to assume it won't get read in the time they expect it to.

Automated emails by machines should be banned, or at least restricted. As a developer, I am constantly getting emails from servers telling me that some job has run successfully, or that some automated procedure is done, and I couldn't care less.
Then modify the jobs. What I find happening many times is that when something NEW is rolled out or in development, people have it alert them to anything and everything including success but never change it when it has stabilized or gone live.

This doesn't mean that success emails aren't important but not for a developer. At my previous company, once we moved to a 24x7 helpdesk, we actually created a list of success emails and the times that the operators should expect to see them. There are many more failures that don't generate a failure message. What about a long running job? In fact I got in this morning and noticed that one of my nightly rsync jobs had not sent a success OR failure email. I looked and found that the job was still running. An error code is not the only time a job might have failed.

One thing that I don't think has been addressed is that email usage is different for each type of person. If we look at the microcosm of IT:

Developers - Bug reports
SA/Network - Job Alerts/System Alarms
Managers - Meeting requests/Policy changes
Helpdesk - Trouble tickets

All of those are critical communications for each of those teams. Some can be followed up with a personal communication but others cannot. A helpdesk email-based trouble ticketing system is by its nature critical.

E-mail has become pretty pervasive... (1)

AdmNaismith (937672) | more than 6 years ago | (#19270387)

Experts say the best way to deal with it is to set aside one or two times a day to sift through and answer e-mail, instead of dealing with it the moment is comes in. Treat it like any other correspondence or paying bills- if you have a large pile of either, you usually set it aside until you can deal with the pile in one go.

Everytime someone says " " is dead (1)

FVK (411455) | more than 6 years ago | (#19270395)

they need to ask themselves if they're talking about something that hundreds of millions of people still use daily. Some douchebag realizes that mail sucks in an unfiltered state if you get a lot of it daily, and all of a sudden it's dead? You know whats dead to me? Spending five minutes yping inanely abbreviated messages into inscrutable screens using my thumbs like some kind of proud monkey just to get a simple fucking sentence across. Email forever, fuck text messaging.

is apple dead? (1)

raventh1 (581261) | more than 6 years ago | (#19270433)

I want a beowulf cluster of G5 servers sending mail to themselves!

Why do we have to consider things as 'dead'? Email has uses, so does parcel mail, as does anything else in the world. I could go on for hours saying different things are dead, but it doesn't change that everyone still uses it. e.g.: Math, books, paper, cds are dead! (cds might actually be true soon)

Blackberry's (1)

Organic Brain Damage (863655) | more than 6 years ago | (#19270441)

are digital slave collars. Like cell phones and pagers.

A couple of weeks ago, I was at dinner with a co-worker and a couple of his friends. One of his friends is a first-year attorney at a big law firm. He got demanding messages from work about every 10 minutes during dinner. I could see the stress on his face when he got the messages. That Blackberry surely did not improve the quality of his life.

And most of the global e-mail is pushing Viagra or pumping penny stocks. The 3rd large category is someone sending a picture or link to a picture of a cute kid or cat to everyone in their address book and someone else responding to everyone in the address list. So, 99% of it is trash, just like all other areas of human endeavor.

Re:Blackberry's (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19270655)

Really, I'd strongly advise your friend to get a second phone. He can afford it.
Leave the work one AT WORK or at least don't bring it out with you on a social meeting.
Is it just a matter of time before we end up paying people to deal with our e-lives?

maybe we need to license email users (1)

the0ther (720331) | more than 6 years ago | (#19270445)

like we license people to drive a car. it's our only hope of preventing idiots from getting into this "email overload" predicament.

TMDA is the answer, maybe. (1)

mchallis (462385) | more than 6 years ago | (#19270463)

Spam is the problem.

If you want the option to be very aggressive about spam control, TMDA (Tagged Message Delivery Agent) is a challenge based tool that requires a sender to confirm their sending address before the incoming message is delivered.

So maybe TMDA is the answer.

Only People You Like (1)

BodhiCat (925309) | more than 6 years ago | (#19270467)

People complain about getting too much spam, yet they freely enter their e-mail on web forms, join discussion lists, or give their e-mail address to a bookstore for a chance at an ipod. Guard that e-mail address with your life. If you need one to signup for freebies, get a yahoo or gmail account and use it only for that. Also use javascript to write your e-mail on your web pages. They can't spam you if they don't know who you are. Only give your e-mail to folks who want to contact you. If it still gets overloaded, then start a new one, and only give it to people you like.

Spam? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19270477)

I get hundreds of thousands of spam messages per year yet only a handful reach my inbox. Although somewhat slow, Spamassassin is damn near perfect for filtering out spam and passing the ham. Way better than the Thunderbird spam stuff and better than GMail even (which is pretty good itself).

It can be controlled: email is by no means dead (3, Insightful)

postbigbang (761081) | more than 6 years ago | (#19270503)

Email is the largest and most critical app for businesses today. It requires administration, and it requires diligence on the part of email services provides-- who uniformly don't care if their systems are abused. It costs money, and no one wants to spend money. Yet no other app has done a better job of propelling the Internet, and business-to-business communications, as well as people-people communications. Yes, IM is great; so is texting, but email is the best because it's rich media.

It's kind of like spending money for a car, then find out you have to change the oil, the timing belt, rotate tires, and so on. Those whose inboxes are constantly full are idiots not to use intelligent spam filters, keep their email addresses from being harvested by bots, and other common-sense use policies.

Every once in a while, it's just fine to get away from your email app and breathe. Voicemail was invented to allow people to control their phone time, and there are numerous ways to prevent email overload. As a friend of mine once said, we're the humans-- they're the computers-- we're in control.

Treat it like a phone number (1)

shirpa_kewl (238010) | more than 6 years ago | (#19270537)

I handling messaging at a very large ISP. If people treated their e-mail address more like a phone number and only gave it out to persons from which they wanted to receive e-mail, people would receive alot less e-mail.

Here are some recommendations for people getting hit heavily by spam.

1. Create a primary e-mail address and secondary disposable e-mail address or alias for public communication.

If you have to communicate an e-mail address publicly on a questionable website or newsgroup, create a disposable alias for the purpose. If that disposable address begins to receive large amounts of spam, create a new disposable address and discard the old one.

2. Use your aliases with family members you expect will sign you up for Internet greeting cards and such that are likely to land you on spammer mailing lists.

Mom will most certainly have no problem helping your alias "subscribe" to many a spammer's list.

3. Avoid easily guessable e-mail addresses that are likely to be found by harvesting, a form of account guessing. For example, avoid john.smith23.

Spammers will harvest accounts by trying deliveries to "john.smith1", "john.smith2" . . ., "john.smith23" and they will eventually find you with "weak" usernames.

4. If you use a username in an e-mail address at one ISP and that address is getting spammed, avoid using that same username in an address at a second ISP.

Spammers will often test the same addresses they know about across ISPs while trying to harvest addresses. So, for example, if you used an address like mrvick@aol.com that was receiving spam and you signed up for a new account with another large mail provider like Hotmail, avoid using mrvick@hotmail.com.

5. Do not use your work e-mail address for access to sites that may share your address.

I use the above recommendations with my accounts and stay pretty close to spam free even on my alias e-mail accounts.

Never throw anything away. (1)

alex_guy_CA (748887) | more than 6 years ago | (#19270547)

My "sent items" has 26,272 emails in it. My inbox only has 9,876 emails (7 unread, 59 flagged for follow up.) I'm not sure how many other folders of filed emails I have, or how many emails are in them, but I do know that I automatically back up the entire thing every night while I sleep, and the back up file is 6.1 GB. This system is great. So many things I am not forced to remember, My email is like a supplemental digital memory for my brain, that is searchable by keyword, sent to, received from, and date. I owe a lot of this to "Spamfire", my stand alone spam filter tat catches about 500 spam a day, and only lets in 10 or so spam a day, while almost never stopping a false positive. (I wish it could tell the difference from a legitimate Pay Pal email and a fishing attempt.) My subject title "Never throw anything away" is a bit overstated, but then again, I only empty the trash in the email a few times a year, so for a long time the things I have thrown away are still available and searchable.

Protection (1)

u-bend (1095729) | more than 6 years ago | (#19270549)

Email Bankruptcy.... Does this mean that if I can't keep up with my spam, I can file for Chapter 11?

i declare (1)

mythar (1085839) | more than 6 years ago | (#19270579)

slashdot bankruptcy.

if you've posted a story, you might want to post it again.

i am starting over.

Not email... (1)

CFBMoo1 (157453) | more than 6 years ago | (#19270613)

But I found that instant messenger programs are WAY more intrusive and to me I concider IM's dead.

There is one good thing about email..... (1)

overcaffein8d (1101951) | more than 6 years ago | (#19270663)

The good thing about email is that it is cheap. Other than having an Internet connection, email is free (from most places). This is much cheaper and faster than spending 41 cents on stamps and mailing snail mail.

Not the technology...the psychology.... (1)

Gybrwe666 (1007849) | more than 6 years ago | (#19270671)

Personally, I think the stress that many people feel regarding email has much more to do with the psychology behind the reszponse to the technology rather than the technology itself.

When I was in college in the late 80's, my girlfriend and I used snail mail to communicate. Its easy, you write a letter, stick it in an envelope, put a stamp, send. When you receive one, there is minimal pressure to respond right away, and you only have a very limited number of things to respond to, besides.

But the networked world, in which I include all communication technolgies (email, phones, cell phones, internet, etc.) have somehow gone from being occasional interruptions to constant ones. They have, even more importantly, gone from ones that require a delayed response to one that we somehow feel compelled to deal with right now, this very minutes, oh-my-god-I-have-to-work-overtime-because-my boss-emailed-my-blackberry-and-he-needs-this-sales -data-right-effing now. The line between work, friends, and personal time has not only become blurred, its often simply gone.

I think that we've undergone a psychological shift due to these influences that we're starting to feel compelled to respond now, to everything. Its a creep that is having a profound effect. I've actually had a boss (and owner of the company) who turned to me one day and said, "I'm always impressed at how you manage to separate your work and personal life," when I told her I had to leave to go coach one of my kids games.

I also think that there are lots of people who simply don't think about what they should be doing. Occasionally my HR department will send out HR updates (new insurance changes, vacation info, paydates that have been randonly moved) and I cannot believe how many idiots in my company respond to @Company revealing their health issues, personal problems, payrates and hours worked, etc. My wife, who is a VP with a team of 10 people, constantly complains that people copy her on *EVERYTHING*. She ends up deleting half her email straight out, and still has to go through most of it to figure out *WHY* she was copied in the first place.

However, using facts that I've pulled from my butt, I'd have to say that this isn't a technology problem. Its an issue of psychology and expectations and human nature. I've found it can generally be solved by decent etiquette and applying a weensy bit of brainpower, but I've also come to realize that most people are capable of neither of those.


Is email dead? Maybe, certainly has less utility. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19270675)

I now get more email that remains unread even to the date of its automated deletion 30 days later in my gmail spam file. Rarely do I even view a day or two to see if a valid communication was mislabeled. I tend to trust the gmail flaggings. Now my Comcast account is a different matter where obvious scams purporting to be from Comcast are neither labeled as such or pursued for their criminal intent. The canned Comcast <i>reasoning</i> is that they <i>originate outside the Comcast email system</i>, they are of no concern. Interesting but dubious logic. Thus, I do view some of the real spam that I have to manually label as such. However, about 40% is recognized properly as spam. My other problem with email I receive in this account is that a periodically valid messages are labeled improperly as spam. These latter incidents are associated with a mail list where the initial question is in the spam and the response is in the regular email. That leaves me perplexed.

In summary, I still find email of use, however, the associated trash lessens its overall value. Nonetheless, at this time, I cannot conceive of my dropping email entirely.

Is email dead? (1)

esme (17526) | more than 6 years ago | (#19270685)

<sarcasm>Yes, of course email is dead.</sarcasm>

Some people have a hard time dealing with distractions, some people have a hard time prioritizing, so let's blame it on the medium. These are probably the same people who had huge piles of paper and couldn't keep up with the deluge of paper mail and memos twenty years ago.

Other people, myself included, love email. I telecommute full time (from across the country) and could not do my job without email. I have almost all of my email about back around twelve years, and some sporadic stuff going back further. And I find it very useful to be able to go back to it when I need to find an old address, figure out when something happened, etc. If other people have a hard time dealing with a new medium, it's their problem, not email's problem.

And I'm not one of the slashdot is going to hell crowd, since the quality of posts and comments doesn't seem to have changed much since I started reading in (ack: 9 years ago!). But can we please keep the trolling in the comments where it belongs?


Toilets are dead too (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19270745)

I know of several men who used to use toilets decades ago, and 15 years ago they stopped (thank you Depends!).

I guess toilets are dead.

Filter your inbox (2, Interesting)

Todd Knarr (15451) | more than 6 years ago | (#19270767)

I run everything inbound through a spam filter first. Anything flagged as spam gets ignored until the end of the day, then I make a quick pass through to see if anything jumps out at me as valid and delete everything else. The stuff that makes it into my inbox I ask three questions about:

  1. Do I need to remember this for the future?
  2. Do I need to respond to this?
  3. Do I need to respond to this now?
If the answer to #3 is yes, I respond and file the message. If the answer to #2 is yes, I flag it for follow-up. At the end of the day I recheck all the flagged messages and if I still need to respond I do. If the answer to #1 is yes, I file the message in the appropriate folder and flag it based on how long I figure I need to remember it. If the answer to all three is no, I delete the message. Once a month I make a pass through my folders and delete messages I don't need or want to keep any longer.

80% or more of my mail gets deleted within 48 hours of arriving (or, at work, filed in the "preserve the evidence for the upcoming court-martial" folder).

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