"Email is where knowledge goes to die" -- Bill FrenchLast season on Spark, Nora talked to researcher danah boyd about her idea of an email sabbatical.
I believe that email eradicates any benefits gained from taking a vacation by collecting mold and spitting it back out at you the moment you return. As such, I've trained my beloved INBOX to reject all email during vacation. I give it a little help in the form of a .procmail file that sends everything directly to /dev/null. The effect is very simple. You cannot put anything in my queue while I'm away (however lovingly you intend it) and I come home to a clean INBOX.After I heard that interview, I immediately wondered if it's possible to switch off email permanently. Sure, I know a handful of people who don't use email at all (mostly older relatives), but that's because they've never used email. So, once you've started using email, is it possible to go back? Enter Luis Suarez. Luis works for IBM, and in February 2008, he completely gave up on corporate email:
I know, you can call me crazy now! You can say I am out of my mind, but the truth is that I am now on the 5th day of taking such a radical approach to my daily workload and the overall experience has been tremendous!! In all of those 5 days I have received a total number of 45 e-mails. Yes, you are reading it right!! 45 e-mails!! When normally on a daily basis I would be getting, on busy days, between 30 to 45! A day!! But this time around, things have been different. I have been telling people I will no longer be responding to e-mails, because the more I respond, the more I get.Since then, Luis has been documenting his attempt to remove corporate email from his life on his blog. He regularly publishes updates showing the number of email messages he gets:
You can get a very good introduction to Luis's goals is in this video from the Web 2.0 Expo Europe: Thinking Outside the Inbox:
I have decided that if I want to demonstrate how powerful social computing is within the corporate world, and beyond, I am going to make a complete shift to it and try to provoke as many conversations as possible out in the open space of social software.