1st Annual No Email Day - August 31, 2006
Preserving the goose that lays golden eggs
For the last several years, our business has promoted one day a year where we all give up internal email. I propose that on August 31, 2006 we ALL put down the email for a day.
This coming from a true addict. Here is some background...
I love email. I've been using it in some shape, form, or fashion since 1993. I discovered the VAX computer on campus and, after much trial and error, sent an email to someone. I can't even remember who or about what. Whatever, I was hooked.
Fast forward to today. I live on my Blackberry. I work for a company that does email marketing.
I think the overall spam problem is getting better - our corporate filters are blocking almost everything now. Phishing is still bad, but the technology is out there to protect almost any computer now. A software firewall, antivirus scanner and spam filter combo can be had for $50 or less. It isn't yet a perfect world (email authentication is taking longer than I suspected) but it is certainly better than twelve months ago.
Yet I cannot ever recall feeling so afraid for the future of email and general electronic communications. Why? People have forgotten how to actually talk to each other. I know people who will IM someone in the next office or cube. People send things that fifty years ago would result in a mob showing up with pitchforks and torches. Few people take the time for proper punctuation, spacing, grammar or to even run the built in spell checker.
It truly is a shame. So let's all do something about it.
Here are the steps required:
1) Challenge everyone that on August 31st they can send and receive email from clients - but that ALL internal communications must be in person or over the phone.
2) Everyone should, in lieu of email, write one letter that day and mail it.
Most importantly, get CEO/leader level support. Have them, and yes I understand the irony, send an email with the rules two weeks early. The penalties for breaking them should be fun and result in only minor public humiliation. The point is to have fun - like human beings - not to add new rules. A message from the top will go a long way.
Comments, thoughts or suggestions? If you and your company or organization are in I will start a listing to keep track. I look forward to hearing from you.
By the way, why August 31st? The original specification for email was published back in August of 1982. I have no idea what date, so if we stick to the last business day in August going forward I figure we'll be safe :)