Mark writes about Americans being obsessed by emails. I am a bit surprised that this is an issue at all. Email is so normal for me. When I first hooked up my phone to my 300 baud acoustic coupler back in the mid-Eighties to dial a BBS, I started to email, and I haven’t stopped since then. It’s just so normal! I really can’t understand how somebody could live without it.
SPAM is a problem though, but in our office we use a sophisticated system of Bayes filters, different RBL’s and – and this really annihilates most of what came through the previous filters – greylisting. This reduced the daily SPAM to about 1-2 undetected messages – compared to a typical 200-300 incoming emails per day (including internal mails) a pretty good efficiency.
I prefer emails instead of phone calls – both for incoming and outgoing. Phone calls get close to harassment sometimes: you are unprepared as to what the caller wants (or the callee is unprepared as to what you want) and usually in the middle of some work (and often stuff where you need to concentrate). You then need to switch tracks quickly, try to focus on what the caller wants, and the chance is good you end up with some extra work to be finished ASAP!
In contrast to that, email is much less intrusive. If I concentrate on something, I don’t check my mail so I can finish my task much more efficient. If I read the mail, I have a better understanding of what my counterpart wants. I can prepare, and on most occasions I can give a precise and helpful answer in short time. And I expect the same if I SEND emails!
A problem arises if there are multiple recipients listed in an email containing a question or call for action. Chances are 50:50 that either NONE of the recipients responds/acts or ALL of them. On second thought, chances are rather 75:25 that no one will react…