A British entrepreneur has decided to ban email, as a radical solution to the problem noted by the BBC, Andy Lark and Gerry Griffin – namely, the way it hinders our ability to communicate effectively, get things done, or even be in the least bit polite.
John Caudwell, CEO of British retailer Phones 4U has just stuck his elbow out. He thinks he can save money- ZDNet’s Jo Best reports he apparently expects to save £1m a month… 3 hours extra productivity a day across 2,500 people.
Ross Mayfield links to Computerworld’s broader policy explanation; employees reply to email queries using email, for example.
In blogs are you a bit more careful than in emails because the forum is so public? Is there a possibility of more politeness through Transparency?
Adam Bosworth recently spoke thusly, coming at related issues from a slightly different angle at ICSOC2004.
The currency of reputation and judgment is the answer to the tragedy of the commons and it will find a way. This is where the action will be. Learning Avalon or Swing isn’t going to matter. Machine learning and inference and data mining will. For the first time since computers came along, AI is the mainstream.
I find this deeply satisfying. It says that in the end the value is in our humanity, our diversity, our complexity, and our ability to learn to collaborate. It says that it is the human side, the flexible side, the organic side of the Web that is going to be important and not the dry and analytic and taxonomical side, not the systematized and rigid and stratified side that will matter.
In the end, I am profoundly encouraged and hopeful that the growth on the web is one which is slowly improving the civility and tenor of discourse. Just as Porn seems to be an unpleasant leading user of technology, so does crude and vituperative communication seem to be a pattern for early adopters and it is a relief to see that forms of governance, trust and deliberation are now emerging.
You can be polite of course and still barbed.
Will AI filtering across messaging-based social networks drive emergent semantics, with filtering and counting of links and relationships to dampen the rantings of rude gits? I am in deep trouble if it does….
At Slashdot of course the user controls the signal to noise ratio. Nods to Steven Johnson.
In true 21st century connection addiction communications style i recieved an email reply while writing this blog. it turns out i had sent somone an email including the phrase “unsophisticated argument” – yeah good one James that is how to win friends and influence people. Apologies.
Its not just email though. Aren’t people increasingly rude and brusque and ignorant? Or is that just American Airlines? (no, they were nice night) . what is wrong with some people? and why am i one of them sometimes? Now all i need is a computer to button my lip.