The Quartz Daily Brief is just one of several e-mail newsletters I like to start my day with, on my commute to work on the number 97. A variety of topics are covered, some catch my eye more than others — politics, yes; business, not so much — but today’s ‘Surprising Discoveries’ section was so odd I just have to share it all with you.
Jack Dorsey sent his facial hair to Azealia Banks. The Twitter CEO wanted the rapper to make a protective amulet out of his beard shavings.
A judge ordered a Missouri poacher to watch Bambi on repeat. He has to watch the Disney classic at least once a month during his year-long jail sentence.
Actual witches want Trump to stop saying “witch hunt.” They say his comparison of the Mueller investigation to their painful history is disrespectful.
A diamond the size of an egg was unearthed in Canada. The value of the 552-carat “fancy yellow” gem will depend on the cutting (subscription).
The year 536 was the worst to be alive. A mysterious global fog covered half of the planet for 18 months, leading to constant darkness, crop failure, and mass starvation.
That’s quite a collection of strangeness for one morning. Sign up for your own odd start to the day.
GDPR finally comes into force on Friday, and there seems to be no let up in the privacy notice update e-mails we’re all getting. This raised a smile though.
Most GDPR emails unnecessary and some illegal, say experts
What’s more, Vitale said, if the business really does lack the necessary consent to communicate with you, it probably lacks the consent even to email to ask you to give it that consent.
“In many cases the sender will be breaching another set of regulations, the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations, which makes it an offence to email someone to ask them for consent to send them marketing by email.”
I wonder if we’ll still receive these e-mails after 25 May. If we do, are the companies that send them admitting they weren’t compliant initially? I’m sure the ICO won’t be too concerned, but it’ll be interesting to see what happens.
Last-minute frenzy of GDPR emails unleashes ‘torrent’ of spam – and memes
The whole process has inspired the internet to rope in everyone from Julian Assange to Donald Trump to Prince William in an attempt to illustrate their frustration at the electronic onslaught.
I’m finding these kinds of articles about people moaning about their e-mail more and more annoying.
Unanswered emails were the bane of my life – until I spent a month in search of inbox nirvana
I renegotiate the terms of this week (with myself) and instead resolve never to check emails on my phone. This is because, as Gomes tells me, it is a “really, really stupid” thing to do. He describes a crushingly familiar scenario: you skim through emails on your phone, and half-read one that stresses you out. You can’t read it properly because it’s on a small screen which is “psychologically frustrating”, and you can’t reply because you get distracted – you so half-read it three times, growing more and more anxious, before you finally sit down at your computer, and realise it wasn’t as bad as you thought.
To prevent myself from checking my email on my iPhone’s browser, I move the Safari icon so that it is nine swipes away. It works. I feel simultaneously triumphant and riddled with self-loathing.
Yes, some people get more e-mail than others. And yes, it’s taking up more of our time than it used to. But no, it’s not an interruption from your work, dealing with e-mail is a part of your work now. And has been for, what, 20 years? There’s so much advice out there on how to work smarter with e-mail – filters and rules, labels and folders, even declaring e-mail bankruptcy now and then. Whatever works for you. Just get on with it.
The triumph of email: Why does one of the world’s most reviled technologies keep winning?
“Email has evolved into a weird medium of communication where the best thing you can do is destroy it quickly, as if every email were a rabid bat attacking your face,” Paul Ford wrote last year. “Yet even the tragically email-burdened still have a weird love for this particular rabid, face-attacking bat.
If Google and MS Exchange were to implement this, it really would shift our relationship with e-mail into a much more mature and intelligent place. We’ve had e-mail for ages now, we really should have moved on more than we have.
Seven email problems – one solution, I think
You can have your inbox set to destroy email after a certain time period. The sender is alerted to the fact that their email will be destroyed after xxx number of days, so if no response has been received in that time, assume email bankruptcy on behalf of the receiver, and use a different method to communicate your demands/thanks/wishes/offers.
You can also send time limited email – if the receiver has not read the email by a certain date, it becomes irrelevant or too late, and so the email is deleted, so that saves the issue of protracted apologetic comms that are dull for everyone involved. You could set this email to alert you when it is deleted unread, just so you know, in case you want to pursue the issue on a different medium.
The New Age: Leaving Behind Everything, Or Nothing At All
As for his own digital legacy? Moser says, “Please throw it all in the Pacific Ocean with a big block of concrete around it. I mean, it probably won’t help because I’m sure that Google has it in a cave in Idaho somewhere,” he says. “There’s this incredible amount of you that exists and that isn’t protected, that you don’t really have any say-so over. Where before you could just burn letters and diaries, you can’t exactly wipe every hard drive and scrape the cloud clean. I think the only thing on our side is that probably by the time, if I’m granted a normal life span and die in 40 years, there will be so much of it that nobody would possibly ever want to bother,” he says.
Note to self: must sort through those old boxes in the loft, those old university zip disks and SyQuest cartridges might still be up there. Though of course I’ve nothing to play them on if I find them…
How Gmail happened: the inside story of its launch 10 years ago
But serious search practically begged for serious storage: It opened up the possibility of keeping all of your email, forever, rather than deleting it frantically to stay under your limit. That led to the eventual decision to give each user 1GB of space, a figure Google settled on after considering capacities that were generous but not preposterous, such as 100MB.
An interesting read about the cautious beginnings of what now seems like such a no brainer. But consider that passage above with this one from Barclay T Blair, information governance expert, in a post entitled “There is no harm in keeping tiny emails”. He had found an article that he thought…
“There is no harm in keeping tiny emails”
… nicely summed up the attitude I encounter from IT and others in our information governance engagements. Ask an attorney sometime if there really is “no harm in keeping tiny emails around in this age of ever-expanding storage space.” The drug dealers of the IG world have really done an incredible job convincing the addicts that the drug has no downside.
"I found the first report helpful because even though the team was unsuccessful in selecting an email solution, they shared a detailed explanation of their experiences and lessons learned. The second report touches on a number of issues surrounding email management: auto-classification, user motivation and time available for categorization, training, and scalability."
Sounds like an uphill struggle all right. I’m finding it hard to visualise an e-mail management system that will actually work as well as we want them to, without significant buy-in from the user. It’s not that we lack the self-discipline- well, no, it’s not just that we lack the self-discipline, there needs to be a considerable time-investment made by the user in actively managing all this – methodically, consistently, deliberately moving e-mail out of their good-for-reading-and-sending-e-mail system and into a good-for-storing-and-searching system.
I mean, we all have an hour and a half scheduled into our calendars every Friday afternoon for this, right? I can’t see how it all would work if not. Surely it’s up to us, the users, to get us out of this mess ourselves, rather than waiting for a technological solution?
We’re drowning in email. And the many hours we spend on it are generating ever more work for our friends and colleagues. We can reverse this spiral only by mutual agreement. Hence this Charter…
Didn’t this used to be just called etiquette? Interesting spotting this shortly after the postcard thing.
An account of how mySociety used email as a customer support system
This is something I should be bearing in mind, as we’re going through a little thing at work about help desk systems and how we can make better use of them.
There must be a million blog posts out there about how to deal with e-mail. Here’s another. Rory Vaden has given us 7 tips for getting your inbox to zero to add to the mix. They all sound very
familiar sensible but I especially liked number 3:
3. Extended Out of Office: When you go out of town for vacation or a work conference, turn your “out of office responder” for one day longer than you’re actually gone. I’ve found that having an out of office responder on all the time telling people how busy we are just annoys them–and doesn’t stop them from sending us emails. But turning on OOR once in a while really does have a positive effect in causing people to think before firing off an email to you knowing that you’re gone. The magic–which I discovered by accident–is in adding one extra day to it so that you legitimately have a catch-up day to get your feet back under you when you return.
I had a few days off last week and had my out-of-office on, but turned it off as soon as I got back. I might give this a go next time though, as I often find most of the first day back after any time off is spent dealing with the missed e-mail whilst trying to fend off the new that’s coming in, often about the same topic. (Do I start from the bottom and work up, or from the top and work down?…)
Other useful tips appear in the comments, too. Someone there admits to not reading any CC-mail. I might give that a go. Often putting someone’s name in the CC box is there for the benefit of the sender only, as a way of showing to the sendee (real word?) that other eyes are potentially on them. If it’s important, tell me about it. If it’s not, then don’t.
I also tend to avoid reading l o n g e-mails too. If it starts to feel like someone’s just venting or ranting, that the cue to stop reading and pick up the phone. Or better still, meet up and sort out whatever the issue is that’s prompted them to write at such length.
Will we ever crack e-mail, I wonder?
E-mail sends you mad. This is a fact, known to science since forever. You know it, I know it. The more you deal with, the more insane it makes you. Turns out that Bill Clinton sent just two e-mails as President. He must have been very sane. Perhaps the last sane man on Earth.
I guess the reason this is most surprising is that Bill Clinton is not a faded memory where quirky stories like this are read with misty eyed nostalgia. He is still on the scene; his presidency happened within the lifetime of anyone over 11 years old. So this is a very stark reminder of how quickly things have changed.
Derfel Owen | Salon