Email Is Not Broken; We Are

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Here’s an interesting perspective on the ‘problem’ of email…

There’s a constant flow of “email is/is not broken” articles across the internet, but most of them miss the point. Email as a system is not broken, but we, through our email behaviors, are.

Nearly all of the articles written recently about fixing email have concentrated on technology and building a better client or implementing the specs more closely or bringing two systems together. These are all great ideas and have a ton of value, but they will not fix the inherent issue that people are experiencing with email, but which most articles fail to articulate: we think email is broken because we are overwhelmed by it and get less real work done because of it.

So instead of asking how we can make email better/faster/cooler, we need to ask ourselves how we can get more work done while still using email. Unfortunately, many experiences have shown over the past decade or so that this problem is not easily solved by new technology, as much as I would love that. It is solved by teaching people better email behaviors. This is certainly a less sexy solution, but guess what? It’s the attainable one. Here are some ideas that I’ve come across from others, and that warrant further investigation. They are all designed to help us get more real work done, which is the real problem with the email timesink.

Source: Email Is Not Broken; We Are

You can go to the source and read the author’s perspective, but while you’re here consider this: I think email is ‘broken’ because we let the wrong things in to begin with — in other words, we have no one to blame but ourselves. Most peoples’ inboxes are like their kitchen junk drawers – how can they expect to find anything of value in there? Instead, try using email only for ‘just in case’ information – information that affects relationships and revenue and all that goes along with it – and use an rss reader like Google Reader for all the ‘just in case’ info. That philosophy alone will make your email infinitely more manageable! As you get more efficient, you can add David Allen’s ‘Getting Things Done‘ principles to your approach…

If you’re looking for more ideas like this, check out my free ebook on ‘personal news aggregation’. Go to http://elevation.company/pna/ and click the register button. You might also be interested in this recent post I did on effectively consuming information

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#hottoppix for June 21, 2011

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Image via CrunchBase

Things we’ve been tracking in the past 24 hours…

 

Tactic #6: Be known

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I had an interesting discussion about privacy at Agritechnica with a strong proponent of privacy on the internet. To me, however, having let that Genie out of the bottle long ago I’m a strong proponent of transparency on the internet. I see it as being a competitive advantage because “consumers can relate to people much more effectively than they can a logo or brand.”

“It’s the same reason why we tell our children not to lie. It’s human. It’s in our DNA; and unless you’re a habitual liar, you practice transparency everyday in your personal relationships. Why should it change on the social web?

I just got off the phone with Wailin Wong, who is a Technology Reporter at the Chicago Tribune. She is starting a new column at the on social media/networking and we had a brief discussion today about the importance of honesty and transparency in the social web (I’ll link to the column when it is live). My brief response – since our call only lasted about 15 minutes – was as follows, and I am going of off memory here:

The concept of social media is not new. By nature we are social in the way we interact in our daily relationships with our friends, colleagues and loved ones. And generally, in those relationships we do not lie or deceive because nine times out of ten people get caught. Personally, I think lying is wrong; and it also has a tendency of pissing people off. This valuable life lesson should also be practiced in social media. For those companies that choose to ignore the simple concept of “transparency” can find that their company or brand will indeed go viral but not with the message they were intending. Social media is an opportunity for companies to represent themselves as real people and build real relationships others. Consumers (and I hate that word) can relate to people much more effectively than they can a logo or brand.” Source: Why is transparency so important in Social Media?

One of the reasons I’m a solopreneur is so that I can work with the kind of people I want to work with. In my case, my transparency is a filter that eliminates bad matches from the beginning. If someone doesn’t like my politics, my faith, etc. they probably won’t like working with me…

Now that I’ve exposed by bias, I’d like to talk about how I do it. One of the problems with social media is that each service has a profile they want you to fill out. The problem is that if you do something like change your tagline, etc., you have to remember to go back and change it at every service you use. For that reason, I’m in favor of using a few that I find useful and trying to refer people to those profile sites whenever possible. A few sites that I use and recommend follow…

Google Profiles

I am the only ‘Todd Lohenry’ in the universe [thanks, mom!] so I don’t have any problems being found on the internet [although sometimes I wish I did]. If you, however, have a name like ‘Mike Brown’ and want to be found in Google Search, nothing it more important than populating your Google Profile…

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZmQLOZS6E9Q

Retaggr

Long before Google Profiles became available, I was using Retaggr which is kind of a web 2.0 business card. Retaggr allows you to fill in your user name info for hundreds of social media sites so that people can see where you hang out on the internet and connect with you there. Furthermore, Retaggr provides code for your signature file that can be used in conjunction with Microsoft Outlook, Google Apps, Gmail, etc. [I wrote about this in the post ‘Socialize your email‘]. Using the WiseStamp Firefox add-on, I’m not only able to re-express the Retaggr information, but even tell people what chat services I use and what my last blog post was [but I digress]…