[Image via Lifehacker]
What we think of as email has been around since 1972, when Ray Tomlinson devised a format for inter-computer message exchange: from user@computerA to user@computerb. We’ve been ranting about its effect on our lives and sanity ever since. Or, maybe not ever since, but email was certainly a popular gripe topic well before this past March, when Paul Graham published his clarion call to startups: “replace email.”
This is one of those ideas that's like an irresistible force meeting an immovable object. On one hand, entrenched protocols are impossible to replace. On the other, it seems unlikely that people in 100 years will still be living in the same email hell we do now. And if email is going to get replaced eventually, why not now?
Why not now indeed. But until it does (we’re working on it), I’ve collected a fine selection of email rants so that, when you’re in knee-deep in cc hell, you may know you’re not alone.
- Author: Michael Arrington (Founder, TechCrunch)
- Gist: Oh yee of time and willing brains, please create a service that notifies me when any important messages hit my ‘box.
- Money quote: “The long term answer to all of this isn’t that people need to try harder to respond to communication requests. The long term answer is that someone needs to create a new technology that allows us to enjoy our life but not miss important messages. If I knew what that solution was, I’d quit this blog and go do it. Someone out there, though, has the beginning of an idea on how we can better manage our electronic communications. And he or she may someday turn that into a product and save us.”
2) “Email Bankruptcy”
- Author: Fred Wilson (Co-Founder and Managing Partner, Union Square Ventures)
- Gist: I will never read most of my email. I have an okay, three-part system for ensuring the messages from the 30 most important people I correspond with get read. The rest is noise, even if it’s not.
- Money quote: “… I struggle with email. I hate it but I cannot operate without it. I have gotten hundreds of suggestions on how to become more efficient with email and I have adopted many of them. But the more efficient I get with email, the more of it that comes in.”
- author: Peter Bregman (CEO, Bregman Partners)
- gist: Our addiction to checking our inbox makes us inefficient. Scheduling a specific time each day to “bulk process” email results in a much more focused and productive workday.
- Money quote: “We are most efficient when we answer email in bulk at our computers. We move faster, can access files when we need them, and link more quickly and easily to other programs like our calendars. Also, when we sit down for the express purpose of doing emails, we have our email heads on. We are more focused, more driven, wasting no time in transition from one activity to another.”
- Author: Peter Allen (Reporter, Daily Mail)
- Gist: Citing email’s massive time suckage, Theirry Breton, CEO of IT company Atos, is giving employees 18 months to replace it with phone and in-person meetings, plus “tightly controlled” IMs.
- Money quote: ‘The e-mail is no longer the appropriate tool. It is time to think differently…If people want to talk to me, they can come and visit me, call or send me a text message. Emails cannot replace the spoken word.”
5) “I'm Quitting Email”
- Author: MG Siegler (Partner, CrunchFund)
- Gist: Email is a broken, life-draining communication system. What will happen if we pull a Peter Gibbons and just stop responding?
- Money quote: “It’s not that I really want to blow people off. It’s that email blows. There has to be a better way. And I think there is! If people really need to get ahold of me, they’ll know how. There are many options. And all of them are better than email in its current state (come on Gmail Lite, come on!).”