A few weeks ago, I blogged about the US Congressional hearings related to e-mail retention at the White House.  The House oversight committee hearing was the latest chapter in a saga of technical ineptitude, political intrigue, and hidden agendas.  It wasn't entirely surprising to see politicians (and competitors) try to point fingers elsewhere, anything to try to explain why a potential five million e-mails are lost...and those are just the ones that passed through the official White House e-mail system.

Following the hearing, several Lotus customers and partners contacted me expressing concern over the way that Lotus Notes was characterized in those hearings.  The sequence of events that followed that was quite dramatic for me, even after 20 years in the industry -- I ended up on the phone with Congressman Darrel Issa, who could not have been nicer or more understanding of what issues were raised by his comments.  I have received a letter from the Congressman, which I hope to publish in the next week or so.  The hearing testimony will also receive an amendment clarifying the intent of the commentary about Lotus Notes.  (If a copy of that letter would help in any discussions in your organization, let me know and I'll plan on getting it to you when I can)  Bottom line, Notes wasn't the focus or target of the hearing, so no research had been done about it in the context of the EOOP (Executive Office of the President) CIO's testimony.  Now everyone knows, and we move on.

But where?  I've also mentioned here that David Gewirtz, Editor-in-Chief of DominoPower and OutlookPower, recently published a book entitled, "Where have all the e-mails gone?"  David sent me a copy of the book a couple of weeks ago, and I couldn't put it down.  He's written it in a very engaging tech writer kind of style, but he doesn't go too deep into the bits and bytes of DNS, MX records, or the like.  It's all there to support his points, but the main focus is on unravelling the mystery itself.

I enjoyed reading the book, but I couldn't help feeling that this is all still a work in process.  No fault of David's, but a book that raises more questions than answers is almost guaranteed to leave you going "hmm".  I know Gewirtz is still very much on the case -- having continued to write about it for his publications -- but the answers simply haven't materialized yet.

One point that really helped in David's narrative is establishing how the White House got from point A to point B.  There are knocks against almost every US presidential administration going back 25 years, and how they have addressed (or hidden) the issue of e-mail as it pertains to the national archival record.  It's kind of depressing, but it is reality -- they are no smarter or better-prepared than even the best IT shop in the country.  David's big question is, how much of that is competency and how much of it is deliberate?

Link: Where have all the emails gone? >

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