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Email

Bankruptcy

My friends, please let it be known that today, I am declaring Email Bankruptcy.

I first heard about this concept when Lawrence Lessig declared email bankruptcy in 2004. Fast forward to today, and I find myself in a similar predicament… As of this writing, I have more than 900 unread emails, and I do not have enough hours in a day to process all my incoming emails and my backlog… and so, I’ve junked my entire backlog of emails.

I am very sorry, but if you’ve sent me an email and never gotten a response back, chances are I never actually even had a chance to read it and a reply is not forthcoming. If it is very important, please resend it to me again and I should be in a better position to respond.

A Fresh Start

As Standout Jobs heads into its next stage of development, it becomes very important for me to have a clear plate and a clear mind. This also applies to Cat’s Corner, which is moving to a new location as of Friday August 1st.

Taking this drastic step will give me the fresh start that I need.

It remains to be seen whether I will be successful. I could easily spend all my working hours reading and writing email. But if I did that I wouldn’t be able to get any real work done; which, for a techie, requires long hours of concentration without distraction. So the logical conclusion is that any overflow email will continue to accumulate until I have to declare email bankruptcy again.

Email by its nature has its limits. It’s a gift that keeps on giving. If I could get away with it, I wouldn’t use email at all!

How to Contact Me

Again, my apologies if you’ve emailed me and never gotten a response. But now, knowing my non-preference for email, let me give you the secret to contacting me and actually getting a response… If you’d like to contact me, please try the following channels first:

  • Phone
  • Instant Messenger: I’m on Skype, MSN, gTalk, Yahoo! Messenger, AIM, and ICQ. (Protip: Use Adium to not go crazy with multiple chat clients)

And if you still absolutely must send email, please send them to the appropriate application-specific email addresses for a higher rate of response:

  • Standout Jobs Stuff: fred at standoutjobs dot com
  • Cat’s Corner Stuff: fred at catscorner dot ca
  • Social Life Stuff: Facebook messaging (Be warned that I will ignore anything business-y on Facebook.)
  • Anything else: fredngo at gmail dot com

I have a love/hate relationship with email. On one hand, I like reading email, but on the other, I detest responding to email. Actually, I don’t hate responding to all emails. When I receive emails that are short and succinct, the probability of my replying in a timely manner increases. When I get a long multi-pager… Well, it might be two weeks or more (if ever) before I can summon up the time and energy to respond.

Why is that? Well, today, I read a post entitled “What Abraham Lincoln Taught Me about Email” that went a long way toward explaining this phenomenon. One anecdote in particular caught my eye:

“Your long despatch of yesterday just received,” Lincoln chided General George McClellan about a 10-page telegram sent in May 1863. Then the president required only three additional sentences to reply to the general’s endless essay.

I wonder if Lincoln got away with this because he was the president? Nevertheless, I could learn a few lessons from that. I agree with Lincoln that if something is so important that 10 pages has to be written, it would be better to meet face-to-face instead. In the meantime, if I get a multi-pager email, I will channel Lincoln and reply with brevity!