Sans Email?

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Could you function without email? I hate spam as much as anyone but it takes me only a very small porton of my time and attention to delete it – I don’t even have to open 95% of it to know what it is and that I don’t want/need to see it. And I don’t even use a filter because I keep hearing from people who lose mail they do want or need inadvertently.

I can’t imagine running this site – communicating with the writers, readers, the business aspects – without email. It would force me back to the phone, which is vastly more expensive than virtually free email. In fact I am certain competition from email has helped drive down the cost of using the phone over the last ten years or so.

But this British company owner doesn’t see it that way:

    We’ve all had those days when the relentless pace of communication had us secretly wishing that someone would come and extricate E-mail from our lives. British mobile phone retailer Phones4U has acted on that fantasy by banning the use of E-mail for internal communications among its 2,500 employees.

    The company’s owner, John Cauldwell, was quoted in numerous U.K. publications as saying that E-mail had become an insidious productivity drain. He estimated that banning internal E-mail communication would save employees as much as three hours a day and that the company would save 1 million pounds a month. The move, he said, was having an immediate and dramatic impact.

    ….Dave Anderson, CEO of E-mail-management vendor Sendmail Inc., took special note of reports that indicate Cauldwell isn’t an E-mail user himself. Not only does that show that he might not understand the implications of his actions, Anderson says, but it also brings into question his motives for making such a drastic move. Joked Anderson, “Do I go to the dictionary and look up ‘Luddite’ or ‘publicity stunt’?” [TechWeb]

Maybe the guy just really likes phones.

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About Eric Olsen

Career media professional and serial entrepreneur Eric Olsen flung himself into the paranormal world in 2012, creating the America's Most Haunted brand and co-authoring the award-winning America's Most Haunted book, published by Berkley/Penguin in Sept, 2014. Olsen is co-host of the nationally syndicated broadcast and Internet radio talk show After Hours AM; his entertaining and informative America's Most Haunted website and social media outlets are must-reads: Twitter@amhaunted,, Pinterest America's Most Haunted. Olsen is also guitarist/singer for popular and wildly eclectic Cleveland cover band The Props.
  • Another filtering option: Keir’s K-9 Filter. I can’t live without e-mail or K-9. At the same time, I do without cell phones and pagers and IMs and such because I do not want to be more accessible than it absolutely necessary. I am a loner and a rebel, you see. 🙂

  • Craig and Eric – you guys should check out and try Skype. You can choose to only accept folks that contact you on your “friends” list, so you don’t have to be open to the world for being bothered if that’s your preference.

    You’d probably find it is much faster to talk to someone really via Skype (Eric) than write out a couple back and forth emails or (Craig) negotiate an IM session when webtraffic is busy.

    I did a quick write-up on Skype yesterday.

  • IM has been really great for me in the last 2 years since I left school in Boston. It is a much richer method for communicating with friends, especially ones who are borderline. You know, they probably aren’t close enough to call on the phone, but throwing an IM up on their screen isn’t such a big deal.

    At the same time, as we have embraced the tech, we have gotten used to using (and respecting) things like away messages so it doesn’t become a disruptive technology. This has allowed me to keep in touch with a lot of people and it is a lot more personal than Email. I don’t know what I would do without IM.

    Anyway, I know it isn’t for everyone, but I love it.

  • Eric Olsen

    I shun IM under all but the most extreme circumstances – I hate the imperative to respond to this thing beeping in my face. At least with email you control your own access.

  • Caleb Liu

    I think that it is all but impossible for me to survive with out E-Mail. I have too many friends and acquaintances that live half way around the globe and keeping in touch with them would be all but impossible without E-Mail.

    Nonetheless, I find that using tools such as E-Mail and ICQ does eat up a lot of time. Instant Messengers are extremely distracting when work needs to be done, or if you are surfing online for some information. And you lose the thrill of a sudden phone call from someone you haven;t heard from in ages. I guess you can get inundated with small talk through E-Mail and Instant Messenger Services.

  • The fact is that including Bayesian filtering, there is no actual solution available yet. All you can do is be patient and wait for something to change.

    Until then I hope you are interested in penis enlargement, mortgage refinancing, the terrorist deck of cards, and barely legal porno sites.

  • And BTW, Ken, I’ve yet to see an implementation by any developer using bayesian filtering that works good enough for business use. Perhaps for hobbyist netizens who get 100 emails a day, but for folks who get 100 emails an hour, forget it.

    Suggestions? We’ve tried dozens of different products and looked into it from a programming perspective and it’s syntax regular expression checking is either too anal or full of holes.

    Whitelisting or going to something that puts the recipient back in control of the nozzle speed for incoming mail could very well be the wave of the future.

  • Count me into the group that is about two steps away from going to whitelist-only for email. Almost every email client has this capability and autoresponders could send out a response to go to a form for folks to send legitimate mail to a safe addy (which could be changed periodically if it were somehow compromised).

    And those who open unsolicited attachments any more from anybody on the web are asking for misery.

  • i think email is pretty danged handy.

    at work some pretty interesting things happen though (this is a software company)…

    engineers arent’ exactly known for their communications skills, so what’s i’ve seen happen is that emails can sometimes get ignored completely or maybe answered in a less than timely fashion. extremely aggrivating.

    on the other hand, i can’t stand the phone. if forced to call everyone up i’d be a less than happy camper.

  • andy

    and at the same time, it is nice to get away from it all for a week or so. I usually head to the mountains for a week of fly fishing every summer, no email, no cell phone, no regular phone, just the river and a cabin. It’s usually the best week of my year haha.

  • I do not know how you deal without filters. That statement boggles my mind.

    If you use Windows to check your email, there is a very good, free, utility called POPFile you should check out. I have blogged about this tool on my site. POPFile, like others like it, uses Bayesian filtering, it learns from you.

    If you use a Mac to check your email, Bayesian filtering is not built into OS X Mail. SpamSieve is also based on Bayesian filtering, it works will all the other mail clients on OS X.

    With 9 months using POPFile is 98.15% accurate at identifying SPAM coming through my 4 email accounts. It has been months since I have had a false positive (a good email classified as bad). I have had 173 classification errors in those 9 months (POPFile keeps stats). It is super easy to train POPFile of its wrong doing, and as you said, easy to spot the SPAM from the real email.

    I could not live without Bayesian filtering, or even basic rules based filtering of some sort.

  • Eric Olsen

    Yes, email has become the norm and people expect to be able to get hold of you right away and vice versa.

  • Eric, I completely agree with you: all the filters I see people using, from my (sender) end, just don’t cut it. I also agree you couldn’t run your site without email; and really, why would you want to. Same for me and my blog.