It's been an interesting few days watching the referrers on this site.  My "e-mail vs. RSS" thread has been linked to at a number of other blogs, and it's leading to comments and other interesting reading and debate.
One particular link lead me to Stowe Boyd's Corante site, where Ross Mayfield, CEO of Socialtext, has written his thoughts on the "e-mail is dead" topic that was one of the main themes of last week's Inbox conference.  I agree with much of what Ross has written, but there are a couple of points where we differ.

I believe IM is due for a cultural shift, and we already see signs of it with interrupt flow largely being top-down in careful interrupting your boss, its not convention.
An interesting thought, but not one I'm seeing, even in IBM's internal use of IM.  With 320K employees, you would expect some IM norms to have evolved, and indeed they have.  But IM'ing your boss?  All the time.  Their boss?  Sure.  And all my superiors are executives; still no hesitation in IM'ing them.  Certainly, at lower levels of the organization it shouldn't be an inhibitor, either.  Now, I can't say I've ever had an IM chat with Steve Mills (four levels up the org from me), but then again I've only been in one meeting with him ever, so why would I need to IM him.  I don't hear this IM pattern out of IBM customers, either.  The two things I hear all the time are 1) that there is an introductory period where people spend a lot of time gossiping and chatting about non-work topics when business IM is first introduced and 2) that in some organizations, IM can be treated like a "post-it note" and you just jump right into your question, while in others you need to do the chat equivalent of knocking on the door/cubicle before starting the real conversation.  But inhibitors as to who to IM, haven't really seen.  In fact, there are serious peer pressure issues with using the feature of Lotus Sametime that allows you to block people on your buddy list -- if that person sees you online from the neighbor's cubicle, you are in deep doo-doo.  I use that feature very sparingly.  What's going on in your company?
Occupational Spam, email sent out of context characterized by CCs, is 30% of corporate email. You know this problem and are a part of it. You want to keep people informed and you want to be informed.
I believe I made the same point the other day.  In fact I had an internal fight with someone over this earlier this week.  That person (nameless, obviously) has a habit of compartmentalizing communications -- the opposite of the cc:-the-world problem -- and as a result, their matrix/interlock (IBM buzzwords I know) skills are weak.  It seems to be out of the old school of "my value is what I know" so they protect very carefully who they share information with.  I have zero tolerance for that attitude (and in this case I've made it quite clear).  Now, cc:-the-world isn't really the right way to solve the problem -- teamrooms and the like are.  Which leads to...
The problem is email wasn't designed and its best use is for one-to-one communication. Enter Workspaces, which in our latest case study dropped group email from 100 messages per day to practically zero.
Well, Ross, great for your case study, but don't expect that to happen everywhere in the real world.  We've had "Workspaces" in Lotus Notes for, oh, 15 years or so, and I still get 100 messages a day.  Now, some of those are pushed links to teamrooms and the like (because heaven-forbid I have the time to proactively surf all my Workspaces and find out what's new...I don't)... I consider this a perfectly appropriate use of individual e-mail.  But ultimately, even with Lotus Notes, SharePoint, Ross's products, whatever -- the business communication default method today is e-mail.  We've had a number of opportunities to shift this paradigm in the last 10 years and none of them have worked.  Witness Collabra, eRoom, Radnet, Groove, Kubi, etc.etc.  Even Lotus's own Quickplace seems to have settled into a place where it is commonly used as an extranet shared spaces tool, which is fine but ultimately may not do much to reduce e-mail volumes.  I see some of the shifts to "contextual collaboration" may change that, and Lotus Workplace Team Collaboration 2.0 certainly has some designs on paradigm shift, but we're going to have to wait and see how that, along with some of the other interesting current attempts, plays in Peoria.
Well worth reading his whole article... Ross Mayfield: Many-to-Many: The state of Email >

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