The Real Paul Jones

Accept no substitutes

Month: October 2012

#noemail – Twitter analysis from Beevolve; Harvard BR on less email; Notify Me Not

I had a great time revisiting the Computer Science Department at North Carolina State last week. A very friendly, but smart crowd of folks and great hosts. There will be a video here eventually, I hear.

Kam Woods points me (and now you) to Beevolve’s “An Exhaustive Study of Twitter Users Across the World” done with Beevolve’s own analytics software. Nice findings here that support some of the recent Pew studies. “A twitter user on average has 208 followers” But most, 81%, have 50 followers or less. Amusing display of theme colors vs gender and much more. Fun and informative.

@mattnowak1 alerts us to “How to Break Free from Email Jail”
by Daniel Markovitz at Harvard Business Review’s blog network from this past August. Among other things in this brief article is a fairly unique use of Dropbox for social sharing. Not just for upload and download, but for group work management. Recommended.

Speaking of brief, Thorin Klosowski at TechCrunch’s Life Hacker turns in two slim paragraphs and a large graphic to make us aware of “Notify Me Not,” a web app that opts you out of notifications from services like Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest and the like — or don’t like. Simple and deadly.

#noemail – Exformatics Ditch Internal Emails


Okay so Denmark-based Exformatics does have a dog in the fight; they make and market the Anywhere app which let’s you manage activity streams more effectively on your mobile devices. But that also means that they will soon have an even deeper understanding of activity stream management throughout their company.

First payoffs? During #nomail January, all email use dropped 55% and yielded streams of more focused and better shared information. Largest drops in email use was among management — less meaningless CC, acknowledgements, “here’s my report,” etc. “CTO Morten Marquard managed to cut the amount of emails to 1/3 compared to November 2011.”

“We spend a disproportionate amount of time reading, contemplating and answering emails, that could have been dealt with far more rapidly and more efficiently face to face, in the activity stream or via the designated task concept in our intranet solution. We want to get rid of internal emails. Externally, we have to use email for communicating with customers and suppliers – at least for now,” Morten Marquard, CTO in Exformatics says.

The substitute for internal emails is activity streams – the business oriented equivalent of statuses in e.g. Facebook, Google+ and other social media. The activity stream is central in the solution for intelligent Enterprise Content and information Management that is used by the employees. Instead of filling up individual inboxes with notes, questions, tasks, these can be shared on a specific activity, case or project. This way, employees with already full schedules get rid of context switching and interruptions from email popups.

Full article at SharePoint Europe.

#noemail – Atlantic on Dark Net; Fast Company on Pony Express; Me on Ages

During the time I was engaging with the comment stream for yesterday’s News and Observer article, most recently titled “Paul Jones has said good bye and good riddance to email”. I made a little chart explaining the relationship between age and email attitude:

Under 16 = what’s email?
16 – 25 = email is for The Man
25 – 35 = my Boss makes me use email, but I usually text when I can
35 – 50 = I wish I could quit email but I want to be The Man
50 – 70 = I am The Man. How can I possibly … w/o email?
70 – ?? = what’s email?

Interestingly enough, the categories aren’t supported just by my experience and by the various Pew studies that I’ve kept up with for my classes, but also by a nice chart included in Hootsuite CEO Ryan Holmes’ same day article in Fast Company “Email is the Pony Express–And It’s Time to Put It Down.”
Percent Change in Time Spent Using Web-based Email

Ryan also includes a 5 point indictment of email. Briefly, email is: an unproductivity tool, not collaborative, not social, a black hole, and finally a very bad way to share documents. Yes, you heard it here first (unless you got it from @elsua earlier), but Ryan’s article does a very good job of clear statements of these problems. Recommended.

Not to be left out Alexis Madrigal at The Atlantic notices that there is a “Dark Social: We Have the Whole History of the Web Wrong” in which he discovers that most sharing in person to person is via IM and email and so is unlikely to be traced except by inference in studying reference logs at websites like The Atlantic. Madrigal offers some good data from some reliable sources — again including The Atlantic web logs — but the definition of Dark Social and the question of influence remains open for further discussion. For example, an article gets hot on Reddit or –according to Mardigal– hits various listservs or whatever. That’s when it really takes off. But that is the exception. “Day after day, though, dark social is nearly always [The Atlantic’s] top referral source.”

The real question here is what is the “whatever,” the “Dark Social.” Is it text, IM, email, listservs, forums, a stop at the water cooler? And more interesting even to me, are there trends in movement toward mobile, toward IM, toward text or even toward email?

#noemail in News & Observer

David Menconi wrote a nice — and mostly correct — article about my way of doing #nomail that came out today as “Email-free UNC-CH professor set to prove there are better ways to communicate.”

I would write more, but SOMEONE ON TEH INTERNETS IS WRONG! And I must straighten them out.

Thanks to Travis Long for the good photo that goes along with the article.


In the box that accompanies the article there are a couple of errors:
“Opened” should be “OpenID”
“RS web feeds for Liters” should be “RSS web feeds for Listservs”

#noemail at NCSU CSC Thursday October 18, 6 pm

Repost of this announcement from last month. It’s coming up soon. This Thursday! See you there.

Paul Jones with hand thoughtfully on chin
I’ll be one of the speakers in this fall’s Fidelity Investments “Leadership in Technology”
Executive Speakers Series
at the North Carolina State University Computer Science Department on Thursday October 18 at 6 pm.

Who: Paul Jones
When: Thursday, October 18. 6 pm.
Where: Room 1231, EB2 aka Engineering Building II on NCSU’s Centennial Campus. The East half of EB2 is the Department of Computer Science (the West half being Electrical and Computer Engineering). EB2 is a large building – about two blocks wide – so it is worth paying attention to where you are. Classroom 1231 is close to the right end of EB2, on the main level.
What: #noemail – Why you could/should/must use better ways of communicating than email!

Abstract: Nearly 30 years ago Paul Jones began working on unified messaging systems leading from Call-OS, USENET, WYLBUR, TSO, BITNET, DARPA, ARPA to modern (for its time) SMTP mail. That was then, and this is now. Email has become a zombie that doesn’t realize that it’s dead and falling apart, a vampire that sucks your life’s blood away slowly each night. You’ve probably noticed this yourself. Jones has put email behind him. In an attempt to atone for his part for inflicting email on UNC, he is exploring alternatives to email with a shotgun and a wooden stake (and Facebook, Twitter, Google+, etc.) as his tools. This talk with touch on the sad beginnings of email, offer some atonement for Jones’ part in the mess, and discuss trends and alternatives needed to achieve the Logic and Destiny of #noemail.

Official YouTube of the talk is now posted:

When Good Sites Go Bad – And how to save them: Archival challenges and solutions for post-1995 websites

Audio podcast now available
Prezi available:

I gave the 2nd monthly Digital Discussions session at the UNC Libraries back on September 13. The Prezi and audio podcast are now available as indicated above. The abstract for the talk follows:

UNC Libraries

When Good Sites Go Bad – And how to save them: Archival challenges and solutions for post-1995 websites

Before about 1995, preserving websites was a simple matter; you just copied the pages and saved them. The site could then be easily reproduced or moved forward even as the software and hardware that supported it evolved. Collections of pages were never obsolete (although some links may have broken).

As scripted, CGI enabled, and database driven websites became dominant, page-scraping showed itself for the Rube Goldberg solution that it is. Not only are these page-scraped collections a pale representation of the original, but they rarely represent the context, the interactivity or the totality of advanced sites.

To make matters worse, advances in software and hardware often completely break these websites. Each server upgrade is a time of endangerment and loss.

What’s an archivist to do? Continue to scrape pages with Archive-IT or Heritrix? Break sites into highly described atoms that we can preserve but in the process lose context and interactivity?

There is a better solution at hand. I will explain.

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