The (proper) role of email in today’s communications

I log into WordPress to write about, well, not about what I am going to write here. Anyway, as I was saying, I log into wordpress and my eyes get stuck in this post: why emails should be short instead of nice. It basically says that email is no longer a preferred method to create connections or intimacy, and therefore when you write email you should stick to the essential. This, they claim, will increase productivity, at the cost of you might being perceived as rude.

Now I’m not what you would call an “email power user”. Despite the fact that in my department “90% of information circulates through email”. And that’s a six year old quote! And I dare say, 90% of those 90% do exactly what you should do according to that article: they were quick and dirty emails that said the absolute essential. And the system worked: things got done (well not always, but the reason was seldom connected to email, except when the servers were down, but that’s another matter…).

Of course there are exceptions, situations in which “you’ll tread with utmost politeness”:

[…] contacting a potential new boss, looking for new work, approaching your favorite author online.

Yet another reason to do that is when you write to a broad audience: the larger it is, the more weight yours words will carry. Quick and dirty doesn’t work here.

Finally, although I do agree with the point that emails should stick to the essential, that does not mean that they should stop being well written, in language terms.

Teenagers of today may approach email more like instant messaging than like snail mail, and that might be just what our email overloaded work culture needs.

True as that might be, I truly dread the day when it becomes commonplace to write emails switching ‘s’ for ‘x’, and the likes, so common in teenagers’ chat and IM messages. In such a scenario, productivity (and probably mental sanity) can only go one way, and it’s not up…


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