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Pluses and Minuses of E-mail

Posted May 27, 2008 8:24 AM

Some say e-mail is breaking down the barriers and bringing the world closer together. But is it really doing that? People in the same office send e-mail messages to each other rather than talk. E-mail is replacing the telephone for the most simple business requests. We are now inundated with e-mails from complete strangers. Perhaps communication technology is doing just the opposite of what most people think: it is increasing the distance between people.

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#1

Re: Pluses and Minuses of E-mail

05/27/2008 11:26 AM

People use e-mail in business to cover themselves. When someone says, "you didn't tell me that", they can turn to an e-mail and point out that they did broadcast that item on such-a-date at such-a-time and that the fault lies in your ability to decode the useful information from all the blather. My husband's boss uses e-mail to communicate with staff sitting just 2 metres away, and they all resent it.

Oh, and e-mail in a non-business context is 'low priority', especially with dial-up. Picture this:

"Did you get my e-mail?"

"No."

"Oh. That's odd. I sent it weeks ago."

"Well, you're talking to me now. Why couldn't you have talked to me on the subject back then?"

When they figure out a way of sending a cheque by e-mail, I'll change my mind.

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#2

Re: Pluses and Minuses of E-mail

05/27/2008 1:15 PM

Besides the usefulness of having email as a medium to exchange information, I have found two profound negative results.

First, is the systematic destruction of language. Now we have thousands of email acronyms like ^RUP^, 4COL, LOL, 831, IDM, SICS, and countless others, that they have made their way into mainstream life. Then there is spelling. I used to be amused (and appalled) at the way people believed that night is spelled nite. Grammar is another casualty of the Internet, too (not to, nor two). However, this has reached a new height (notice, that is not spelled hite) via email. I have seen it said that a million monkeys on a million typewriters could eventually pound out the works of Shakespeare, but the Internet has since proven that false. What does this mean for the future? Predictably, I regret to say I can foresee Shakespeare translations containing acronyms so that college students can read and understand his works.

Second, email has become a new portal for the Nigerian Email Scam. I have received so many business proposals, won (not one) more UK lotteries, and received more inheritances in the last three years that I could buy Hawaii outright and the taxes on these alone could pay off the US national debt. P. T. Barnum put it well when he said, "There's a sucker born every minute." However, that was long before email.

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#3

Re: Pluses and Minuses of E-mail

05/27/2008 4:11 PM

I tend to agree with Anonymouse...

As well as to say that over the last 10 or 15 years verbal communication has been sadly going downhill fast!!

Nowadays it seems you have to SMS text or email someone and wait for a reply... maybe this is because we are gradually loosing the ability to communicate one to one verbally?

I know last week I had a technical problem with a product that was discontinued a long time ago, no data on the web, so I rather felt hopeless about phoning the company and asking to speak to someone who was in the company back in the 60s and could help...

Much to my surprise I ended up having a delightful conversation with someone called 'Dave' who felt like me and he was surprised at being asked directly such questions, he said it was a breath of fresh air having someone phone him, instead of email etc...

He had all the information I could have wished for for free, and we both enjoyed our chat...

So that has re-inforced my attitude that we really ought to teach people more about verbal communications...

John.

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#4

Re: Pluses and Minuses of E-mail

05/28/2008 7:24 AM

E-mail is handy for business communication because it has the rapidity of the telephone and at the same time leaves a written record like a letter. There is more of a certainty that the recipient at least got the message, and if you invoke the recieve-reciept feature, you can confirm that he/she got it. For example in correspondence with a contractor, the trail of e-mails serves as writtten confirmation that something was communicated and received, and exactly what was communicated, yet the e-mail is as quick as a phone call, you don't have to wait days for a letter, and it is less cumbersome than a fax. Like anything, tho, it can be over-used, or used in applications where it doesn't make much sense.

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#5

Re: Pluses and Minuses of E-mail

05/28/2008 9:50 PM

1. One should never, ever rely on e-mail when dealing with matters that rely on trust between participants. One should never use the telephone when dealing with matters that rely on trust between participants.

2. One should never attempt to comply with a legal communications requirement by e-mail. One should never attempt to comply with a legal communications requirement by telephone.

3. One should never negotiate contractual agreements via e-mail. One should never negotiate contractual agreements by telephone.

This list could probably be extended extensively; the bottom line is that commitment must be negotiated face to face. Why? Because the words we use are really a very small part of the actual communications that goes on. Tone of voice, facial expression, averted eyes or direct eye contact, posture...there are many signals that can provide significant clues as to the sincerity of ones interlocutor, or the level of comprehension one is dealing with.

Face to face communications adds another dimension to an encounter- mutual respect. It is very difficult to develop a relationship based on mutual respect without direct face to face contact. This was true when the telephone was the new kid on the block, and probably true when people first started sending letters to each other. The scams to which we are subjected via the internet began a long time ago. It is not the medium that is at fault- it is the expectations of the users that lead us astray.

There are appropriate uses for Internet, just as there are appropriate uses for the telephone or a hand-written note. Don't fault the medium (i.e., don't shoot the messenger)...

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#6

Re: Pluses and Minuses of E-mail

05/29/2008 8:41 AM

Let's just confess ... you are an E-mail junkie or you just don't geddit.

I keep in touch with my Sis by E-mail very frequently, and a couple of old colleagues.

Of course I keep in touch with you guys on this forum...
If it wasn't for CR4 and E-mail I'd prob go mad and think I was human .

Del

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#7

Re: Pluses and Minuses of E-mail

05/30/2008 10:10 PM

The pluses? Time is not of consequence, in a manner of speaking. I can send or receive an e-mail after hours in order to maintain communication. I have a record of the dialogue, or at least my side of it-"I told you so" or "that is what you told me" applies here. I have an easy way to maintain an archive.

The minuses? It is NO substitute for face-to-face interaction. We must all work together as a team and be able to interact with each other. That is hard to do when we lose the skills to read faces, posture, voice tone and inflection, etc. It is very difficult to convey emotions or sincerity unless you are exchanging e-mail with someone that you know very well. And, remember how you came to know this person very well! It was probably not through the exchange of e-mail. It is important for a team member to be able to interact in a face-to-face, voice-to-voice environment.

E-mail is a powerful communication tool when used properly. But, it is just one (1) of several communications tools/methods and should be used when nothing else will suffice.

When using e-mail (or any other form of written communication) I think it is best to adhere to the three (3) tenets of good business communication: Be specific, be thorough, be brief. Without saying; a challenge in itself.

Best Regards,

Ing. Robert Forbus

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#8

Re: Pluses and Minuses of E-mail

06/09/2008 2:18 AM

All those years man struggled to get out of the caves to become the dominate life form on the planet just below Godzilla.

The computer age is constantly driving us back into our own private caves. The emails allows us to interact with other when we chose too. There are time we are so bored we would like to have an email and others when that one email makes us so stressed we get sick and go home. Accidently deleteing an important email will wake you up at night with that bad dream. You didn't get and email are you out of the loop, is my job on the line, am I about to be downsized again, am I being transferred or is my whole department getting cut.

Carpel Tunnel is running rapant through society today even children are requiring surgery to repair damage.

Strange strange world.

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