Preventing Email Bankruptcy: From 1920′s Postcards to Video Confessions 14 Comments
Auto-response from Gary Vaynerchuk:
Subject line: Thanks for the email — click the link
Hey, here’s a link that will explain everything!
Before the economic recession hits us like a Pamplona bull, we will have long entered an digital recession characterized by lower per-hour output from digital workers and a higher incidence of problems like “e-mail bankruptcy.”
This Chapter 7 of personal productivity is a failure point where the user — physically incapable of responding to the number of unread inbox items — deletes all messages and sends an e-mail to all contacts asking them to resend anything still relevant.
Last Saturday’s front page article in the New York Times, “Lost in E-Mail, Tech Firms Face Self-Made Beast,” [Tech tip: Use BugMeNot to get throw-away usernames and passwords] highlights the measurable extremes of information overload and how the same tools that helped create the problems seldom fix them…
Tactical approaches to preventing e-mail bankruptcy range from video confessions like the above to preventative measures like a formal “digital rules of engagement” statement.
“You are welcome to send me a very brief email at gamma [at] fooledbyrandomness [dotcom]. You would do me a favor if you waited a while as I am not in an online mode and have 500 neglected letters in my inbox (so please just send mail for pressing matters). Concise messages are much preferable (say a maximum < 70 words). (There is a ten page letter I have had in my "to read" box since 2002). Note that I almost always reply (but ONLY to short messages), time permitting (but once) –even to nasty emails. However, note that I will not reply to trading and finance-related questions (my specialty is problems of the applications of probability and epistemic issues, not financial advice). I will not reply to letters asking me to rewrite sections of my books (I write books, not emails). Also note that, thanks to my new keyboard, I sometimes reply in Arabic, particularly to academics (which can be easily solved using Google Translator which captures about 35% of the meaning).
[Please, please, do not send me the list of typos in my drafts. Also please refrain from offering to "improve" my web site. Also, please do not send me passages from Tolstoy or the Ecclesiast on luck and randomness]."
Marc Andreessen, co-founder of Netscape and noted thought leader, keeps it sweet and simple on his blog:
You can send me email at pmarcablog (at) gmail (dot) com. Due to volume and other responsibilities I probably won’t respond but I will try to at least read all messages.
Things haven’t changed much in the last hundred years.
Edmund Wilson (1895-1972), famed literary critic and author, sent the following postcard in response to nearly all postal mail:
“Edmund Wilson regrets that it is impossible for him to: Read manuscripts, write articles or books to order, write forewords or introductions, make statements for publicity purposes, do any kind of editorial work, judge literary contests, give interviews, take part in writers’ conferences, answer questionnaires, contribute to or take part in symposiums or ‘panels’ of any kind, contribute manuscripts for sales, donate copies of his books to libraries, autograph works for strangers, allow his name to be used on letterheads, supply personal information about himself, or supply opinions on literary or other subjects.”
The only downside? He found people started mailing him just to get a copy of his “auto-response.”
C’est la vie.
Odds and Ends: Danish friends, please help! + Signed copies of 4HWW
Fun segment on Danish TV — can any Danish readers help?
If you speak fluent Danish, I’m doing my first translation experiment at DotSub and would love a minute or two of your help! I was on primetime Danish television via DR1 and had a blast. Check it out here. If someone else is transcribing or translating, the page will be locked to avoid overwrites, but please check back. Thank you in advance for even a few words!
Signed books for those interested…
I don’t do book signings or touring, so there are very few copies of the 4HWW with signatures. For those of you who might be interested, the UK publisher let me know that there are a limited number of signed copies available here from my trip to London.
Posted on June 6th, 2008