Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Email is Bad: Don't Use It!

It looks like Grooveshark Chairman Sina Simantob is learning a valuable but painful lesson about what should and should not go into email. Mr. Simantob committed a cardinal sin, he put a bunch of incriminating stuff in emails that he never thought anyone would ever see. I'm more than certain he regrets every word of every one of those email messages. And he's not the only one. There are countless examples of careless emails coming back to haunt people.
So what do you do? Stop using email.
Crazy, you say? Well maybe it's just crazy enough to work.
A French technology services company is banning email, at least internally. Atos has formally decided what I have long believed: email is so bad it should stop. Atos adopted a policy that it will no longer allow its employees to communicate internally by email. Instead, Atos employees will have to communicate face-to-face (imagine that) or by instant messaging. Collectively, employees will create work using the "wiki" style of collaborative document creation.
This is great. It appears to be catching on and getting positive feedback. Personally, I hate email. It's impersonal and prone to abuse or misinterpretation. You don't get any incidental feedback like you do when you talk to someone--like a smile that says "I'm joking." Sure, people have started to use those silly smiley faces, but that's just dumb. And horribly unprofessional.
So I will soldier on and continue to champion the death of email, at least as a primary means of communication. I would be happy if email just served the same purpose that formal written letters used to serve. People should stop thinking they can shoot off any and every thought that pops in their head in an email just because it's easy. It will come back to haunt you. Just ask Sina Simantob.