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Immunity, Email, Why my email response are short...

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Jun. 21st, 2007 | 09:18 pm

While at the Linux Foundation meeting last week I spent some time
talking to Allison Randall. I told her about my recent vacation and
how I ditched my MySQL email during that period. Its the first time I
have ever done this, just shut off an email pipe. I went as far as
deleting my MySQL account from Mail.app so that I wouldn't be tempted
to even look at it.

We were talking for a bit about our experiences with receiving lots
of email and how to handle it. I noticed from our conversation that
we had both found coping skills that resulted in both of us treating
email as a very lossy environment.

I don't respond to all of my email. In fact, I don't even read CC'ed
email except for maybe once a week (and sometimes not even that). If
you want my attention then I assume you put me on the To: line, since
you are actually thinking of me. This works surprisingly well (and if
it is important... people just call or resend the email... and when
they resend they always put the message on the To: line).

My email habits are a result of me being basically immune to the
nature of email communication. Text messages I always respond to.
IM's? Almost always.

Email? I don't answer lots of email, and when I do?

I respond frequently with just one or two sentences. I do remember
writing long responses to anyone who wrote me, but that was years
ago. Today? One or two lines. If the message is important enough, I
just call. If the message is important to a large enough audience I

I refuse to continue a dialogue past three replies.

I rarely write long responses to email. I assume that my own immunity
to email is shared by others, and I believe that immunity to email is
growing. I see far fewer long pieces of email today. People I know
who used to write small novels today write just paragraphs

I look at long email and dread replying to it. Given a two line
message that I have to infer meaning from or a short novel, I'll fill
in the message with context. Long email requires study, I believe
that by generating long email you are effectively cutting your
potential audience. Wanting feedback? Quick responses? Then do not
draft long email.

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Comments {1}


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from: dossy
date: Jun. 22nd, 2007 03:14 pm (UTC)

Funny, I feel the opposite way about email--given the choice between emailing someone vs. calling them, I'll email them every time. I wrote a ranty screed about why I dislike voice communication so much.

I agree that long emails are undesirable--just as people who speak slowly are--but I'm a fast reader. The upside of email is that I can receive lengthy emails and cut through them quickly, but I can't speed up someone who's talking to make them bearable.

The benefit of email is that if I'm explaining something that requires thought to understand, the recipient can read and re-read it at their leisure, instead of making me explain and re-explain it, wasting both of our time.

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