#Noemail Meets #LessFacebook


Paul Jones is done with email.

The pioneering internet information specialist and UNC professor announced his decision in early May and made good on the pledge on June 1; he reports that his first week without the once-essential tool "was much less painful that I would have thought."

Meanwhile, his blog posts under the #noemail tag are essential reading on the way we communicate now, and a lively Twitter conversation has followed.

By coincidence, I needed to contact Paul this morning, so I used Facebook, which is one of his stated preferences for post-email dialogue.

Also by coincidence, as he's been weaning himself from email, I've been downsizing my own relationship with Facebook.

My issues with Facebook are the usual ones. You know the list: It's a time-suck and I probably don't care what you are doing at this moment and I don't want to sharecrop for Mr. Zuckerberg and his presumptuous advertisers and I don't own my content and so on. At the same time I value the networking aspect and understand that networking online benefits individuals, not just corporations, in big ways, from job seekers to my (flesh-and-blood) friend Antwan, who recently reconnected with his father via the service.

So I need to be on Facebook, at least for now, but I can discipline my usage and keep the signal-to-noise ratio at a tolerable level. Small blows against the empire: I removed my birth date from my public profile and closed my wall, thus relieving myself of the need to check birthday posts on the big day, which was lovely and filled with good wishes, thank you.

Email I need to keep for a while, although practically the only reason my own kids still use it is to trade messages with their parents, grandmother, and other aging authority figures. UPDATE: I'm not crazy about some of the alternatives, either. Paul tweets that we might talk via blog posts, Skype, or IM -- but blogs are public, Skype is a hassle, and IM is annoying.

Paul and I are feeling different parts of the elephant. We're not going Luddite, or moving to Walden pond in search of some more authentic experience, we're trying to figure out the best way to communicate and to stay productive as technology continues to change. If your company isn't having some version of this conversation, it should be.


7 Comments for "#Noemail Meets #LessFacebook"

  • Steve June 24, 2011 2:14 pm

    It's interesting that just because things don't comply with RFC822 or the subsequent RFCs doesn't mean they aren't electronic communication or email. To me this is a publicity stunt by someone who has really been anti-email all along. Forum people never really liked email to begin with. So Facebook feels familiar. Also Facebook has email and Twitter has direct messages, so to say #noemail is kind of misnomer.

  • BIll Rausch June 16, 2011 6:55 pm

    Perhaps a lot of time is spent using email because it is a good use of time? As I work my many projects, my email folders become a documentation store. If I don't use email, I'd still need to maintain the documentation trail somewhere else and would spend just as much time with that. Appropriate filtering of email is important, but that can mostly be done at first read: what to keep, what to toss, what to respond to and then toss or keep, what to come back to.

  • Arthur Kaye June 14, 2011 9:47 am

    Twitter is useless for real communication. If it can be said in one message, fine, but any complex communication isn't going to fit in a single message. Instant messaging is useful but not thoughtful enough, plus it depends on fairly good typing skills. Video messaging is also useful but not in the way email is - the difference between readings for class and the lectures and discussion groups. E-mail works.

  • Paul Jones June 14, 2011 8:20 am

    James, As an early email developer, I can see a lot of difference between email and other others. Read blog for ongoing details but for starters: email differs greatly in structure and use from say facebook messages. Yes text (when email is text) is text -- electronic or otherwise -- but the way that it's used, manipulated or presented is difference in each format. Integration of email to IM is a start (Gtalk/Gmail and FB msgs do this in a basic way), but better to look for something that includes document collaboration, video as needed, calendaring, etc. This is unlikely to be done by adding more and more onto email which is already bloated and poorly designed for such integration. More likely we'll see, and I'm betting on this with #noemail, better ways to manage our activity streams by integration of various services as we choose them and as they emerge. This is already underway. Billy, You are very confused if you think email is private. It is less private than a postcard left in Starbucks with your phone number on it. I too like Gmail because of the spam awareness, but I still find that I spend more time with less reward on email than on any other messaging system. I'm glad that publishers have found you and glad that for you that you have moved from the technology most disruptive to production -- telephone -- to email. But imagine something better and more varied and more robust and more useful. Parts are there already. Yeasir, You say self-documenting as if that were a good thing. Most studies show that more work time is spend filing and searching in email than on any other distracting activity. In essence, you and those around you have become little more than file clerk to ephemeral texts. This is good business communications? This is effective use of time?

  • Yeasir Rahul June 13, 2011 11:38 am

    Skype! IM!! Facebook!!! These are alternatives of email????? No way. Email is self-documenting. In business communication it will outlive any of the above.

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