E L S U A ~ A KM Blog by Luis Suarez

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Giving up on Work e-mail – Status Report on Week 10

What an incredible week last week that has just gone by! Yes, I am sure that you have noticed how quiet things have gone over here in this particular blog over the last few days, right? Well, as you well know, I have been attending IBM‘s Web 2.0 and Beyond Summit over the last few days and although I didn’t have a chance to blog much, the experience hasn’t certainly fallen short with the expectations. It was just wonderful and so much more! So much so that after a couple of days after the event I am still completely jazzed up about the whole thing. Yes, that is right, that good!

And here I am now, putting together some thoughts, as I am already back home, having arrived earlier on today, and trying to have some rest in between to get back to work tomorrow in full force. And faithful to keep capturing my experiences, I have been putting together some notes from last week’s weekly progress report on the my giving up on e-mail mantra, work related e-mail, that is, and must say that last week was not very encouraging. At all. On the contrary.

However, it surely was an amazingly exciting week having enjoyed one of the best conference events I have attended in years around the subject of social computing within the enterprise and beyond, met as well part of my team, and my new boss (Who, by the way, follows me now on Twitter. How cool is that?), went and visit New York city for the first time in my life (Yes, I know, about time!!) and, finally, met some wonderful people who, now more than ever before, are already part of my life as we finally had the opportunity to know each other face to face and the conversations, along with the experience, was just tremendously positive!!

Yet, after all of that excitement that I will be sharing some more thoughts on in upcoming blog posts, it was a disappointing week, at least, for my quest on giving up on e-mail. In a way, though. Not entirely, and over the next day or so I will explain what I mean. But before we all go into that I thought I would go ahead and share with you folks a couple of interesting links I bumped earlier on during the week, which I am sure you would find rather relevant to the overall experience.

They are both twitterings shared earlier on: by Stowe Boyd, who quoted Doc Searls on a particular statement which I have decided is going to be part of me and my online interactions from now onwards, specially as I move on further with this e-mail detox (As Matt Moore would say…): "Email is where knowledge goes to die" and by my good friend, Víctor Ruiz, who was quoting a rather enlightening comment with some wise words from Joi Ito under Loic Lemeur‘s Seesmic du Jour 124: Joi Ito explains Creative Commons: "Email is user generated content to each other, is crap to everybody except for ourselves". Really worth while listening to the four minute long videocast, for sure.

At the same time a couple of other interesting links were put together by two folks I have been following for a while. The first one JP from Confused of Calcuta who comes to ponder some more on the role of e-mail with social networking sites like Facebook and how it is changing the game between enterprises to help them share their knowledge and collaborate closer. Good read! And the other link is from my good friend and one and only Kelly Drahzal, who seems to have started her own fight against e-mail and although perhaps not as radical as my approach, still a very good one, which I am sure is going to work for her rather well. No doubt! Oh, and Kelly was one of the many many folks I met while at the IBM Web 2.0 Summit and Beyond and she is even much more amazing in person! But more on that later on…

Like I said earlier on, this past week has not been very good as far as my giving up on e-mail experiment is concerned. On the contrary, rather disappointing! But not to worry, I am not planning on giving up any time soon! Like I have been saying all along, I am not going to go back. This new working environment where everything goes around through everything else but e-mail is way much more fun! But first things first. Here is the screen shot with the results from last week:

Whoooaaahhh!!! 60 e-mails in a week while away from the office? How can that be? I mean, the week before you would remember how I eventually got 38 e-mails, yet last week things have gone sky high! My goodness! The highest number of e-mails I have received in a week ever since I got started with the whole thing about giving up on e-mail! So, what happened? What am I going to do from here onwards to keep things back under control on that 30 to 40 e-mails range? Is there still hope to make it work?

Yes, there is, indeed! Like I said, there is no way for me to go back, so the first thing I will be doing from here onwards is to be a bit more aggressive in how I am going to keep diverting some of these conversations. And here are a couple of examples that would help illustrate the whole thing and what I am talking about.

As you would be able to see, most days from last week were all pretty busy. On Monday, however, I got 9 e-mails, out of which 7 of them were related to an urgency matter that needed my attention and which could have taken place in a collaborative wiki. It was for a project team and, pretty much like Ray Sims has been saying over at KM2.0 Presentation – Boston KM Forum (By the way, if you haven’t watched the referenced slide deck nor the blog post I would strongly suggest you do as you are going to get exposed to some very solid piece of work around the topic of Knowledge Management 2.0), ALL e-mails related to a project should be going into the team collaborative space and not e-mail. It would have had the same effect, except we would not have wasted so much time clearing the whole thing out through e-mail in the first place with people bouncing off and on different tidbits that we all knew we needed in a central place!

The second example is actually a result of something that I have been exposed to and which may not be that frequent to other folks. As you may have observed, specially if you have been reading this blog for a while, this year seems to be the year of the conferences and customer meetings for me, because I am getting to attend plenty more than the last couple of years combined! This, in itself, is a very good thing as it shows more and more folks are interested in social software in general and folks would want to know how they could make it work for their businesses. Unfortunately, this means that there is going to be an increase of incoming e-mails to try to confirm and finalise dates, agendas, presentation materials, etc. etc. So before I knew it I was already on 12, 14, and 14 e-mails for the last three days from last week, and that is something I am really willing to explore and find a solution for it, before it becomes an overkill.

So how about a wiki, an internal wiki space, in this case (Since some of those events may be of a sensitive nature), where folks who may be interested in inviting me to attend and / or present at conference events would have the opportunity to put a few lines indicating what it would be for, what they are looking for and then I can come back into the wiki page and share my take on it, i.e. confirm whether I can make it or not. And get things going from that moment onwards. The amount of e-mails exchanged to achieve this is something that has got me thinking and perhaps something that I will be giving it a try starting this coming week. I would be curious to find out how people react to this new approach of coming up with conference events invites. If it works all right, I am planning on sticking around with it. And if not, then I will have to look for something else, because most of that traffic has originated with such kind of events.

As an example, this past week I have managed to confirm my attendance and participation in events taking place in Spain, Germany (And several times while in there as well!), Zürich, and a couple of other places I will be mentioning shortly, as soon as I get a chance to update my Dopplr account.

Yes, I know, long blog post, but not to worry, I am going to leave things like this looking forward to this week to see what would be happening this time around. So far this past week has been an interesting one in this respect, since I never expected to reach such high number, but then again it was all due to a couple of items that I am sure are easily fixable. Thus let’s see what happens this week and I will surely keep you posted on progress, for sure. As a teaser, my Monday is now done and we are back on track! 😉

Now… on to finish those draft blog posts with some of the highlights from the IBM Web 2.0 and Beyond Summit, as I am sure you are wondering what the week was like and why I enjoyed it so much. Stay tuned for more to come …

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