The Real Paul Jones

Accept no substitutes


John Robinson of the Greensboro News and Record posts this on Facebook:

I get an unsolicited email. My out-of-office Outlook message bounces it back. I get an out-of-office email from the sender. I love this internet thingee.

I check my inbox — sorry, still do do this til June 1. I have a dozen instances like this. In fact, I’ve been unsubscribed from one list I had forgotten about because of “too many bounces.” On inspection, the bounces weren’t caused by my own away messages, but from the list service malforming their own mail headers.

The battle between “away/out of office/I quit email” messages points out one thing that email despite being over 30 years old cannot do very well–email interoperability is terrible. Like a dancing pig, it’s a miracle that it happens to work in the first place.

Thanks email, for taking another 15 minutes of my life managing bounces.

And while I’m at it, the worst of the bounces, “Email undeliverable because the recipients inbox is full,” was one of the stacks of bounces. The original message began “Please let me know …” Sorry I can’t let you know anything until you clean out your lame underprovisioned inbox or change your email service.

My point is that situations like this should never happen at all. And with the right services, those other than email, they don’t. Smarter services including Facebook chat, Gtalk, AIM, Skype, etc let you know before you begin the conversation whether the person you want to communication is available or not. If not, there are provisions offered for asynchronous messaging.

Activity streams and hyper-integration help you communicate effectively.

email doesn’t deliver.


  1. If a person is too fatigued to clear out their inbox, you think they’re going to give you timely response via other methods (FB, Twitter DM, et al?) If someone is going to claim email bankruptcy (which essentially, you’re doing), is having 12+ social-based “inboxes” to monitor a better solution?

  2. Paul

    6/5/2011 at 7:18 am

    No, email bankruptcy is clearing your inbox and starting clean with or without notice.

    Read further here, I’m divesting. People know how to reach me as I give them a selection of alternative and offer to accept other means that they suggest.

    Whether this means that I am headed for a better solution or not is the point of this project.

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