Posts Tagged 'history'

Bye bye, E!

Posted on October 12th, 2011 · Posted in Analysis and Opinion

The letter “e” has become a central symbol of the internet age, along with the once obscure “@” glyph. We have it prefixed to all sorts of old words, from Commerce to Bay, from Business to Book… and of course, to Mail, giving us what remains possibly the most  useful online tool yet devised: email. But things change, and the venerable “e” is beginning to slip. I notice that more and more young people drop the “e” and just say “mail”  without even realizing the ambiguity this introduces – their generation’s experience with paper-in-envelope mail is so scanty that they.. Read more

The innocence of youth

Posted on September 4th, 2011 · Posted in Analysis and Opinion

I was having coffee with a colleague I go back a long way with, and he told me of his first encounter with email. He had just joined Intel (in Israel) in 1988, and his boss showed him his new cubicle, his desk, and his computer, on which he demonstrated the email application. My friend came from a workplace where there was no such thing, and the following conversation ensued, more or less: My friend: What is this for? His boss: well, if you want to write something to someone, you write it in this window, add the person’s name.. Read more

How to keep distribution lists short

Posted on July 20th, 2011 · Posted in Analysis and Opinion

I was lecturing about Information Overload at an MBA course in Haifa University, and a student shared a lovely story. Long ago, she said, before email replaced paper correspondence, she used to work at a company where memos were written on special forms that came as a three-layer stack with chemical copying. You’d write or type the top layer and two copies were created on the layers below. This was very convenient (you didn’t need to mess with Carbon Paper) but had one side effect: you could only create up to three copies at once. If you needed more, you’d.. Read more

The iPad is mightier than the pen

Posted on June 7th, 2011 · Posted in Off-topic

It has been remarked that younger people tend not to wear watches, because their ubiquitous cellphones and other computing devices make them superfluous (interestingly, this brings back the action of having to fish something out of your pocket to read the time –  a throwback to the Victorian pocket watch, without the chain!). But I’ve just been informed of another victim to portable computing, and it goes back much earlier than the watch. I was talking to a friend who is also a consultant and he told me that in his workshops the attendees often sit with iPads and other.. Read more

A sad vignette of family life in the email era

Posted on May 5th, 2011 · Posted in Impact and Symptoms

An Information Overload sighting at a technology conference I enjoyed today: One speaker, a senior manager in a hi-tech multinational, made use of the TV series “House” to illustrate a point. Then he confessed: I don’t watch House. My wife does watch it, and I do mail at the same time. A lovely domestic  tableau, that: husband and wife sitting serenely in the living room, close in space but totally apart in spirit, thanks to the 24×7 demands of email overload. By contrast, I recall the early years of Television in the sixties, when our entire family would flock once.. Read more

Royalty, too, has Information Overload!

Posted on April 23rd, 2011 · Posted in Analysis and Opinion

In the film Her majesty Mrs. Brown, we see a grieving Queen Victoria refusing to return to her duties in the years following the death of her husband, Prince Albert. The film has much else to recommend it, but as an Information Overload practitioner I couldn’t help but enjoy the moment when the Queen – played by Dame Judi Dench – angrily exclaims “my ministers send me letters to read – boxes and boxes of letters!“ This was before email, before Facebook, before our BlackBerry-distracted modern existence; and yet even then Management involved Information Overload – and even then, senior.. Read more

The ease of getting connected

Posted on January 6th, 2011 · Posted in Analysis and Opinion

Welcome to a new decade, promising ever more technological change! Here is one change that came to my mind: I remember, as anyone of my generation does, how you used to have to wait more than a year to have a phone line delivered by the state-run phone monopoly of the time. In fact, after I got married in the mid-seventies and waited a couple of years, I got a shared line with my absent-minded neighbor, who would forget to hang up after conversing… This is now a fading memory; these days, we take it for granted that we can.. Read more

Spelling for the new millennium

Posted on October 29th, 2010 · Posted in Off-topic

Tolerance to spelling errors changes as history progresses. For instance, in the middle ages nobody worried about spelling at all; I’ve read many a manuscript from six centuries ago (my wife is a historian researching that period) and the spelling of everything, even names of people and locations, is all over the place. As long as you could guess what is being referred to, nobody cared. The more precise attitudes of the 20th century would not tolerate this, so our spelling has become standardized, enabling us to play Scrabble and hold spelling bees. But the technology we use dictates our.. Read more

Information Overload before Email

Posted on September 23rd, 2010 · Posted in Impact and Symptoms

Real time communication over large distances has been around for millennia, if you count smoke signals and bonfire beacons; but it’s really taken off in the 19th century after the arrival of Morse’s Electric Telegraph in 1844. Suddenly it was possible to freely send text across the nation, and the new invention spread as fast as new wires could be strung up. Isn’t progress great? The transformation this brought to all aspects of life was sweeping, and is described in Tom Standage’s fascinating book “The Victorian Internet“. My favorite part of this book is the quote from a speech made.. Read more

The Warm Fuzzy factor in communications

Posted on August 12th, 2010 · Posted in Analysis and Opinion

These days I make a living helping people avoid spending all night on processing their email overload, so it was with some amusement that I remembered how I used to spend my own nights communicating with people – but enjoying every minute of it! This was back when I was in my teens and twenties, and I had a ham radio station I’d built myself (of course). I’d stay up late at night (when shortwave reception tends to improve) trying to connect to as many other radio amateurs in distant lands as I could raise in my earphones. It was.. Read more