The problem with e-mail

It’s time for a rant. I’ve been using the internet since around 1992 and I was recently thinking of how strange it is that we use e-mail more and more but don’t think or focus on the issues with it and take these into consideration. We use the technology for the sake of it or out of habit, rather than choosing which tool is appropriate for the job, i.e. telephone or in-person meeting or video conference or e-mail.

  • An e-mail does not express all of your thoughts only a small subset
  • An e-mail is only a snapshot in time message regarding a certain topic and can never contain all of the facts
  • To be able to express yourself in the e-mail means that you have to consider the mindset and knowledge level of the recipient. If you don’t factor this into account, then the message may and probably will be misunderstood.
  • Important decisions ( career, financial, life etc) are made through e-mail without checking all of the facts
  • New thoughts and ideas are often not updated and sent out in the email thread, so email threads lack the full details yet decisions are made from a small understanding of the topic expressed
  • People don’t like long emails, yet they are required in order to be precise so that informed decisions can be made
  • CC’ing was not invented for arse covering, but why does everybody think differently
  • BCC is spooky shit
  • An e-mail thread can easily remove a participant, and yet that participant does not know that they’ve been removed and conclude that this is the end of the discussion. Wrong.
  • Some people read emails but don’t respond
  • Some people don’t read emails but are supposed to
  • Read-receipts are bad netiquette and over-used by people who don’t know what netiquette is
  • Does anybody remember what netiquette is anyway and does it still apply. Saying that an e-mail that follows bad netiquette practices is less likely to be frowned upon but respecting people’s basic privacy, being courteous are important imho
  • Even with smileys, it’s very difficult to read emotional states from people through emails, so a lot of information is not conveyed. If I worked in Sales, then i’d end each e-mail with a smiley
  • Cultural differences of what is considered rude and what is acceptable can sometimes be difficult to adhere to through email
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