#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.