Ming the Mechanic:
E-mail is Dead

The NewsLog of Flemming Funch
 E-mail is Dead2001-11-26 05:22
18 comments
by Flemming Funch

It has been several years since e-mail stopped being a useful medium for me. Now it is mostly an ongoing source of guilt for me, because of all the needles I don't notice in the loads of hay stacks I get every day. I still get 5-600 e-mail messages per day. Amongst them, I'm sure, many gold nuggets of information, as well as important personal messages I really should be attending to. But in the mass of everything else, and by the sheer volume of it, it is a matter of complete luck whether I happen to notice some of the stuff I ought to notice. What isn't working for me is the linear, unstructured nature of e-mail.

I can't easily see what is personal and what isn't. I can't easily see who I have a previous history with and who I don't. I can't easily keep track of what is interesting or important or what I need to do something about.

Yes, yes, I know about e-mail folders and filters and stuff like that. I have lots of folders, and I have lots of filters filtering mailing lists and other things into different folders. And I have different labels in different colors I can assign to messages. But it doesn't help very much. I still have more than 20,000 messages in my inbox. Many of which are now marked as "Read This!", "Answer This!", "Take Action", etc. Which I usually don't get around to, because there are too many. But if it is REALLY important, I can hope to run into it again. If I put it in another folder I can be sure to never run into it again.

Whenever I say something like this, a few helpful people will always answer and tell me I should just be using their e-mail program, and they have everything perfectly in order. But, I'm sorry, it is usually from somebody who gets just 20 e-mails per day, or who structures their mind totally different than I do.

I really need many more dimensions to things. Putting something in only one folder means I probably lose it. I need to be able to easily assign many different traits to an item. Or, better yet, I need most of them to be assigned automatically. An e-mail has a very different importance if I'm having a conversation with that person, or if it is person who is important to me, or if somebody is asking me a question, than if it is just some discussion on a mailing list.

I also can't deal with the linear nature of it, where mail is just stacking up, and I can only deal with it by reading through it from one end.

It pains my greatly that many people write to me, something which they consider important, and they're waiting attentively for my answer. And if my answer doesn't come, probably because I never noticed their message, they read a negative meaning into it. I didn't agree with what they said, I don't like them, I'm angry at them, they're not important enough, or whatever. The truth is normally that I never noticed their important question. It is lost in 20,000 pieces of mail.

So, part of what is wrong with e-mail is that it might feel like an actual communication, as part of a conversation, when it often isn't. I can't read all my e-mail any more than I can read every word in the newspaper every day. I don't, and I can't. If I read a newspaper at all, which I don't do very often, I look at the front page, and I page around in it and look at what catches my attention. And I might go to certain sections to see what is new in a certain area.

I'd like to deal with e-mail more like that. If I think of a certain person I'd like to go to the section about that person and see where I left off with them. I'd like to be able to keep track of how important that person is to me, and I'd like to be reminded. So, if I said it was important, and I don't go looking myself, I'd like to be reminded that I didn't answer that person's last message, or that I promised to do something which I didn't do.

Generally speaking I think we need to give up on the idea that somebody is paying attention, unless they really are. I.e. if you and I are talking right this moment, and you answer what I'm saying, you're obviously paying attention. But just because I send you a letter, or an e-mail, or I leave a message on your answering machine, or I throw a brick through your window, doesn't mean you're receiving my communication. The world is too busy to make a lot of assumptions about how much free mental awareness somebody else has for your communication, unless you're observing it directly. You might be getting a letter per month, or 100 mail bags per day - I don't know.

I can think of possible solutions, and I'm a programmer, so maybe I should go and implement them myselves, as far as the e-mail is concerned. But mainly I wanted to express my frustration, and my observation that no solutions seem to exist at the moment. And I suspect that part of what is needed is a change in thinking.

When things increase beyond a certain level, things change. Either they break down, or some new kind of order emerges, or both. That's probably a key element in evolution. If there's too much stress, or too much chaos, something new appears, something which is better suited to deal with it. And I think it is time for an evolutionary e-mail leap.


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18 comments

26 Nov 2001 @ 07:01 by jstarrs : Email junk
Ming, you know, you need what in ancient times was called.....a secretary.  


26 Nov 2001 @ 07:36 by kay : And I thought I had problems,...
I only have 751 that have not yet been assigned their space or folder.
You are important whether I answer you or not. We are 3D people on a 3D planet with 3D stuff to deal with. If we were 4D we'd be using Mental Telepathy or something and by-pass e-mail totally.I couldn't think of anything else to say to 20,000 pieces of mail.  



26 Nov 2001 @ 08:00 by bushman : Hmm
Ill have to agree with jstars.  


26 Nov 2001 @ 15:19 by ming : Secretary
A secretary? Gee, yes, that would be nice. Somebody who'll keep order in my files and keep track of who I need to call, and who can actually speak on my behalf. I have at times had associates like that, and I've forgotten how nice it is to have a team. I guess I've better announce the position as being open.  


28 Nov 2001 @ 06:57 by sharie : Emerging from the chaos...
So what do you want?

You can communicate with whoever you want, about anything you want.

You can have anything you want, and live anyway you choose.

What do you want?  



28 Nov 2001 @ 07:01 by sharie : Organizing a Team
I apologize for not seeing the other comments first. Okay, you want a team. Focus on what you really want, pick teammates whose live are aligned with your goals, and move forward. That seems pretty simple. You don't have to attend to 20,000 pieces of mail, or even 500 a day. You can attend what's vital to you, your family, and your teammates helping you create what you all want.  


28 Nov 2001 @ 16:35 by ming : What do I want
Well, in part what I want is to maintain my clarity even in chaos. Yeah, I don't really need to deal with most of those 20,000 messages, and if I just dumped them, it wouldn't be any huge loss to the world. But I'd like to maintain clear and solid communication with the people I'm particularly working together with, and I'd like to maintain a clear focus on the things I'm working on. Which is of course anything that I choose. And I'd like the structure of my incoming communications to support that. Right now it sort of distracts me from focusing on the things I find most important. I guess I'm asking for technological solutions that match how my mind is mapped, and that don't force me into a model that doesn't fit me.  


28 Nov 2001 @ 21:00 by peazritr : you might want ...
...to try folders & message filters to send certain mail directly into those folders. that kind of works for me. i have my folders lined up for different business categories & the mail filtered messages go straight into them. that leaves my inbox with the junk mail & delightful messages from friends. i say kind of works for me because i have to remember to go into the folders & deal with the stuff there. i'm using outlook express, win98. i'd be surprised to hear you're a windows man. are you?

p.s. i think the technology of which you speak is spelled v.a.c.a.t.i.o.n. have a wonderful one!!!  



29 Nov 2001 @ 02:51 by ming : vacation
Yeah, a vacation is what I need. Going to Denmark for christmas, so that is nice. Yes, I must admit I do my daily work at a Windows machine, somewhat reluctantly. My laptop is a Mac, which is really what I prefer. And all servers I work with are Linux. And, as to filters and folders, yes, as I said, I use them extensively, but it doesn't quite cut it. It organizes the chaos a little bit, but it is still chaos.  


29 Nov 2001 @ 15:54 by istvan : NCN communication
 


29 Nov 2001 @ 17:51 by istvan : THE LESSON OF THE TREES?
I visualize NCN as a seed of a tree of a future civilisation that will grow to replace the old rotten tree that is the civilisatin of the Homo Sapien.
NCN is a network of those of us who desire a new way to live without the bonds of legacy.
We are not yet this new civilisation, but if you check the bios of jut a few hundred members, one can feel the yearning desire to participate in living a more meaningful, conscious life.
Ming you have planted this seed and it has grown into a seedling.We have the right soil(the intelligence of the members),the right sunlight(illumination), the right temperature(the desire for change),LET IT GROW. As the seed is only one cell that has to organise into roots,trunk,branches and leaves in order to fullfill its full potential as a tree.
I volunteer for a branch and promise to try to grow leaves and supply them with what they need so I may soak in the light only they can receive and trasmute into energy, withouth which the tree can not exist.
Perhaps you could eliminate E-Mail alltogether. why not post evrithing we have to say on the website.
Could eliminate chatrooms alltogether and develop the sites of interests for communication; coordinated by volunteeers.Just a thought.
I would not like to depend on technology alone.
Enough for now.
 



30 Nov 2001 @ 00:56 by ming : Trees
Yay, let's have more cells, more seeds, more branches. My vision for NCN was always that there would be many nodes, many cells, with different people taking on each of them as they're inspired, and the cells extending neurons between each other. I never saw NCN as one place, run by one person. Many different interest groups, located in different places, sharing elements of a communication infrastructure. So, by all means, pick something you'd like to shephard and I'll support it as best I can.  


2 Dec 2001 @ 17:37 by istvan : Three of NCN
 


2 Dec 2001 @ 17:43 by istvan : The fomer comment
 


2 Dec 2001 @ 17:53 by istvan : ?
The privious comments got swallowed up in cyberspace.
Sometimes I feel an extraterrestial resides in my Compaq and just using me to push the kays.Well IT should have chosen a better typist.
My Newslog will appear again as soonas I find a deextaterrestrialising plug in.  



3 Dec 2001 @ 12:41 by bushman : Plugins ?
Just shoot the thing Zen, lol.
Ming, I wouldn't worry, NCN is doing exacly what it was intended to do, and as you know that the Lost Tribe held the vission for over 5 years, past it to many, some even made plaques and framed it, the vission hangs in lockers at work, in thier homes, was sent to some as Xmas presents, The Lost Tribe was created and influanced by the vission regaurdless of who or what transmited it to us. When Mplayer.com closed, the entire tribe/gammers/chaters/clans , where thrown to the winds of cyberspace, fact is Ming, millions have read the vission, people, even the NCN will never know or meet. As for me, I would have never found the Lost Tribes true brothers/sisters, (the NCN) in this hallowed vission, if parts of it where not in the letter from the future, on Art Bells site. Ming , the ball is allready in motion and gainning momentum on its own, you can sit back and watch it bloom, We will have world peace. :}  



4 Dec 2001 @ 20:01 by peazritr : We will have world peace. :}
[link]}  


21 Jan 2002 @ 03:01 by shawa : We will, we will...
We WILL have WORLD PEACE.

A hug to All of You,
And Bright Blessings on the NCN,
The Lady Moonshadow of Avalon of the Heart.  



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