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Email. Email. Email.
My partner Chris Wand just put up a post titled Did Darwin Skip Over Email? Every now and then the "Email is dead" meme makes the rounds and lights up TechMeme. The right answer isn’t that "email is dead"; it’s that new and exciting stuff is happening around the use of "messaging" and it’s time for some new innovation.
For those of you who suggest that I switch all my email over to Facebook, I say to you "Laugh-a-while you can, Monkey Boy."
If I had to do all my "messaging" in Facebook, that’s what would happen to me. And since Lithium is no longer on credit, I doubt I’d be very pleasant to deal with. Rather than facing this reality, help us help out by bringing us your new email (ahem – or messaging if you want to be politically correct) innovations.
I spend plenty of time making connections between people. Email has certainly made this a lot easier. One of my best friends – Warren Katz (the founder / CEO of Mak Technologies) recently send me some prehistoric emails that he had saved from me demonstrating that even when I was in my mid 20′s, I was using email to connect people. Note the Compuserve email address – can you remember your Compuserve (or Source) address? And yes – the Compuserve address bounces now.
Subject: Scott Instruments
Date: 10 Sep 92 17:38:38 EDT
From: Bradley Feld <75170.1206@CompuServe.COM>
To: Warren Katz
I sent a letter to a company in Denton, TX called Scott Instruments and suggested they give you a call. This is a company that was co-founded by my first "business mentor" — a guy named Gene Scott. They are a voice recognition company that is based on technology developed by Gene’s son Brian (Brian is VP of R&D). They are a small company (20 or so people) that are primarily in the technology development and licensing business. They have deals with a number of companies, including Silicon Graphics.
I met with them last week when I was in Dallas. Their current CEO is a guy named Marvin Preston who also has his own business working with developing technology companies (Scott Instruments is his current client). He’s a super neat guy, and lives in Princeton, NJ (and has a daughter at MIT). I thought you might benefit by being hooked up with these guys in some way. When I mentioned virtual reality, everyone’s eyes lit up. I’ll send over a copy of their marketing stuff for you.
Eh – shitty metaphor. But Bill nails it in his Dear Microsoft: Please Buy Plaxo post. I don’t have a nickel in Plaxo, but this has been an obvious fit for a lot of years. Hopefully someone at Microsoft is listening. While they are at it, maybe they can build a file format autoconverter into Office 2003 SP4.
I’ve periodically engaged in the debate about who actually owns your email. The assertion that email sent from your corporate email address is owned by the company is a difficult one for me to deal with, especially since email has become a ubiquitous means for communication. As a result I find the entire thing tiresome – but important.
I’m a big believer in private property rights. I also know the risk of the government granting a property right inappropriately (for example, the evils of software patents.) Today, the New York Times reported that The National Labor Relations Board Restricts Union Use of E-Mail.
The National Labor Relations Board has ruled that employers have the right to prohibit workers from using the company’s e-mail system to send out union-related messages, a decision that could hamper communications between labor unions and their membership.
In a 3-to-2 ruling released on Friday, the board held that it was legal for employers to prohibit union-related e-mail so long as employers had a policy barring employees from sending e-mail for “non-job-related solicitations” for outside organizations.
The ruling is a significant setback to the nation’s labor unions, which argued that e-mail systems have become a modern-day gathering place where employees should be able to communicate freely with co-workers to discuss work-related matters of mutual concern.
I’m not a fan of unions, but this is stupid. Solution #1: Union members all get a Google Apps account (email@example.com) and use that for union communications. Since it’s a union email account, shouldn’t that be ok even thought it’s being sent via a web browser on a work computer? I don’t know union rules well enough, but do they prohibit interaction with other union members on work facilities during work hours? If not, then this should work.
Stupid Company Trick #1: If the company believes it owns the email, doesn’t it actually want the email on the company’s e-mail system? If the company has made every employee sign a little thing saying "we own your email", this would give the company the right to read all the union-related email which seems to give the company a big advantage here!
Stupid Government Trick #1: Why is our government wasting tax payer dollars on this? (Hint – this is a rhetorical question.)
Upon my return from a week off the grid, I was slaughtered by Facebook invites, LinkedIn invites, and an endless stream of unread blog posts. It only took me 75 minutes of my morning routine to get through all of them. The most entertaining ones had parallel structure to them:
- "you are my friend on Facebook – I thought we should be friends on LinkedIn"
- "you are my friend on LinkedIn – I thought we should be friends on Facebook."
Of course, if I hadn’t turned off email reminders for both services I would have also had email messages alerting me to my new almost friends.
Pete Warden – who I met through some special friends that I’ll be talking about shortly after the new year – showed me a really cool visualization of his Outlook Graph when he was in Denver for the Defrag conference. He’s now made the alpha available for anyone to play around with (against your Outlook data store.) Social network as a function of email.
Fred Wilson is now living in twitter, tumblr, and disqus. I’ve been pestering Fred for a few months about the hidden social network across blogs, especially embedded in comments (Fred uses Disqus – I use Intense Debate.) Social network as a function of blogs + comments.
There is another layer of structure here that some smart people are working on, but so far I haven’t found "the company" that is doing this. The metaphor that popped into my head was portal vs. Google. Before Google, we had Yahoo, Excite, Infoseek, Lycos, and a bunch of others. They all did search and discovery, but were completely eclipsed by Google.
Today we have Facebook, LinkedIn, Bebo, Hi5, Meebo, Orkut, … We also have email, blog comments, … Seems like a parallel universe. Be a good friend and help me find the answer.