Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Ethical Blogging vs. Email

We all know what a hassle it is to wade through hundreds of pieces a spam every week in your inbox just to keep up with your legitimate email correspondence. A Wall Street Journal article yesterday titled “Email’s Friendly Fire” has identified “colleague spam,” email from your coworkers who always press the “reply all” button. The article goes on to offer some solutions in the form of email sorting technology such as ClearContext.

Are we witnessing the death of email? Can blogs help out?

I always suspected the day would come when email would begin to die. First, with the wave of spam growing every year, legitimate email gets lost in the tide. There was an excellent article in the New Yorker in August describing this phenomenon called “Damn Spam: The losing war on junk e-mail”:

As the Web evolves into an increasingly essential part of American life, the sheer volume of spam grows exponentially every year, and so, it would appear, do the sophisticated methods used to send it. Nearly two million e-mails are dispatched every second, a hundred and seventy-one billion messages a day. Most of those messages have something to sell.

Second, corporate spam filters aren’t always accurate in identifying which emails are spam and which are not. I have witnessed several cases in which spam filters have gone berserk in the past few weeks inside my office and at the offices of others. The bottom line is: When you hit that “send” button on email, you can’t be so sure the recipient will get it, open it, and read it. Finally, the addressee can always claim, “I never got your email.”

Why not shift the responsibility on the readers by posting everything on blogs? Indeed, as you know, one of the origins of the blog in its current form was from an ah-ha moment: People emailing to one another discovered that the discussion thread amounted to something of value and thought the discussion could be posted publicly. Many corporations are trying out internal blogs as ways to share ideas and innovations, thus reducing the amount of “colleague spam,” I would hope—assuming their idea was more than “Brownies in the kitchen.”

Essentially communication is diversifying at a rapid pace. Chad Lorenz of Slate magazine declared “The Death of Email” just a few weeks ago. We communicators are hedging against the risk that email may not be infallible. Twitter, Facebook, text messaging, and blogs, I would argue amount to a communications potpourri. The great thing about blogs (and Facebook for that matter) is that you can see your post as soon as it goes online. “I didn’t get the message” can be a thing of the past if people trust the integrity of their message to be viewed by the public.

Perhaps a transparent blog posting in lieu of a secretive email message could save people from becoming victims of embarrassing gossip or other affairs. For private matters, it might be best to make a phone call or do what's sometimes called "Facebook in the flesh."

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

The company I work for, a private firm that's grown from 500 people 6 years ago to 3000 now, is moving away from e-mail to more of a blog format. We have tools to post to shared lists for discussion as well as a wiki structure for other internal documtation. Everything is indexed and searchable. It's great!

Anonymous said...

I work for a school district. Sometimes parents email teachers and it ends up in the junkmail folder. Not so effective after all to email the teachers!!

Little Weed said...

Do I really want everyone to know whether, where and what time I'm meeting Dave for a Curry tonight

O Pechanga said...

Many companies have filters that work for outsiders, but not for the yokels on the inside that don't know how do delete! The reply all is like a new toy and it's amazing the stuff that gets forwarded.
My company does not allow us to read outside email. I can use the internet, but not access my Yahoo email when I'm hooked up through VPN.
Our company has a messageboard/blog type also. It's useful.