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

From the blog

A World Without E-mail: The Mashable Effect!

Gran Canaria - Pozo de las Nieves & Surroundings in the Spring Last week was one of those weeks that would surely mark a before and an after on my mission of living “A World Without Email“. Two years back, in June 2008, to be more precise, I published an article on this very same subject in The New York Times. For a good few hours it was the most emailed story of the day, or so I was told. The amount of buzz generated around the subject of giving up on corporate email and, instead, make heavier use of social software tools, was just outstanding! One difficult to forget! Till last week. Welcome to the Mashable effect!

If you would remember, on Friday September 3rd, Amy-Mae Elliot published a lovely article over at Mashable’s Homepage under the heading “A World Without E-mail: One Man’s Vision of a Social Workplace“, where she talked about a recent interview I did with her talking about what it is like being a remote knowledge worker working for an email driven corporation like IBM (Most businesses would probably feel the same way as well, I guess…) using, mostly, social software tools to collaborate and share your knowledge across, giving up altogether on work email. I had a terrific time talking to Amy-Mae about this topic, but I never expected what would be coming along after that! Basically, when the article was finally published!

Welcome to the Mashable effect, indeed! What happened from there onwards was the emergence of a huge number of superb conversations and overall buzz generated that it kept me busy for the entire week last week! Several dozens of blog posts, thousands of tweets, retweets and Mentions; hundreds of buzzes; hundreds of Likes; several dozens of comments on the original article (Which I have now finally caught up with!); traffic on my blog tripling from previous weeks, and, most interesting, a massive decrease of incoming emails, during the course of those few days… Something that, with the NYTimes article, didn’t last that much longer. But it looks like the Web has matured in this respect quite a bit! What before was perhaps the most emailed story of the day, now it’s been a huge buzz on various social networking tools for over a week!

Yes, I’m posting today this blog entry over here to reflect on the overall experience of what has happened in the last week and a day, since that article in Mashable was first published. I didn’t have much time to reflect on it till now and it surely is one of those wonderful experiences difficult to forget. For certain! Alas, new week, new stories coming along at Mashable and traffic over here has gone down back to normal; well, perhaps a bit more than double of what I used to have. But, certainly, things seem to have settled down quite a bit!

The remarkable thing from this whole experience has actually been getting contacted by people who I know very well for a long while now, and who I trust dearly as well, and, also, most interestingly, getting contacted by a whole bunch of total strangers, both fellow IBM colleagues, as well as non IBM social networking evangelists and enthusiasts, who have started themselves their own conversations on reducing some of the email clutter they are exposed to on a daily basis. That has been tremendous and what I would consider mission accomplished!

Social Networks’ traffic is a nice thing to have, it makes you feel good, it helps you get a good sense of being “noticed”, but, like I am witnessing over the last few hours, it’s something that will pass. People will move on. Just like yourself and myself. And that traffic will slow to slightly higher levels than before, but sticking around there. Yet the effect of that buzz will disappear eventually, over time! However, I cannot say the same thing about the conversations that’s triggering; about how it is helping people question the way they do and process email, and, most importantly, how they collaborate and share their knowledge with others. And, that, to me, is exactly what I wanted. To challenge email. To help people wake up and think before they send out that next email! And it looks like that objective has been met quite extensively, because the email traffic I got over the last week, including today, has been averaging 2 emails per day!! And the amount of social networking traffic has gone sky high!

Yes, indeed, mission accomplished! Everyone is out and about sharing their knowledge and information more openly and publicly, thinking outside their inboxes! And I cannot be happier than that, to be honest! Well, actually, I can be! Because also last week, a total “stranger”, Amber MacArthur (Amber Mac, for short), kindly invited me to participate on TWiT’s net@night live podcasting show with her and the one and only: Leo Laporte. Yes, I mentioned “stranger” a few seconds ago, because, to them, I was a total stranger, even though I have known, and followed!, them for years! (Some of my favourite podcasting shows I still listen to on a regular basis come out of TWiT).

Yet, there I was, about to be invited to participate in episode #167 on the topic of “A World Without Email“. Can you imagine how hard my worlds collided?!?! Still, I had a blast! I couldn’t say “No!”, of course!, to such kind offer by Amber, so despite the unearthly hour I stuck around and spent a good few minutes talking to them about the experiences of giving up on corporate email. What the main reasons were, why I still keep doing it, what social networking tools I use on a regular basis, what have been the main implications of such blunt move, and a bunch of other stuff, including some helpful tips on how to get things going for other folks!

Lots of good fun with some really interesting discussions going on as well! And all of that recorded for posterity! Yes, that’s right, there is a recording both at the TWiT site, as well as in YouTube. Thus I thought I would finish off this blog entry sharing the embedded code over here, so just in case you may have missed it last week, you would still have a chance to go through it and get a glimpse of what it is like starting a week at work getting hit by the Mashable effect and finishing it off with being the host of one of your all time favourite and unforgettable TWiT net@night shows with Amber and Leo!

Whooaahh! Will it get better than that?!?! I don’t know. I doubt it. But I tell you what… I would be incredibly excited if you would stop using email to collaborate and share your knowledge across with your fellow co-workers and other knowledge workers altogether and, instead, make a heavier use of social networking tools for business. Yes, that would make me really happy! Not just for you, nor for me, but for all of us! And if the urge to send that email is just still far too strong for you, breathe, count to 10, and think before whether you would really want to send that email or not. Hopefully, not! That would make me happy, too! 🙂

From here, I just want to take another opportunity to send a special thanks to all of those folks (Yes, you know who are!) who have made a reality such an incredibly exciting week for yours truly and his mission to live “A World Without Email”. I’d be eternally grateful, to say the least … Thanks ever so much, folks!

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  1. Congrats. I’ve had a similar experience recently with winning the CrackBerry Idol competition. The traffic and buzz have died down, but what I learned was that I have an *amazing* social network supporting me. Good times.
    Also, ironically, I’m reading your blog via my Inbox. 🙂

  2. Fantastic work you are doing and you have certainly hit the right chord with me. Your tagline especially touches home since the “Think Outside The Inbox” has been a mantra I’ve been preaching inside our company (a 20,000+ person financial services provider) for over a year now. In fact, I even designed a logo that takes a fun spin on the Taco Bell “think outside the bun” mantra which you can see in this post:


    Thanks for sharing your experiences.

  3. Luis, I swear you quoted me a couple of times during the interview — I don’t know how many times I’ve told people to delete all their email, if it’s important it’ll come back. And I too get my news from Twitter. Great interview!

  4. Luis, I’ve been a regular listener of many of the TWiT podcasts as well and was delighted to hear you show up on Leo and Amber’s Net@Night!

    You know I’m a fan of your perspectives on social media and I’ve been trying to avoid the trap of simply adding social media to my existing use of email but rather to replace the former with the later. I’ve been partly successful at that thus far but your blog post and podcast interview just provided additional motivation for me to encourage more of my teams at work to make that move with me.

    Keep up your great evangelism. You’re an inspiration to us all.

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