Minor Note on Work E-Mail


Yesterday I dealt with yet another voluminous batch of work e-mail (which I keep on the server for as long as possible and then syphon off to encrypted PSTs on a Windows box) and realized that I filed 1GB of corporate e-mail this calendar quarter alone, and we’re not even done with March yet.

I say filed because I typically delete vast swathes of discussion threads (the corporate top-posting reply style makes the whole thing terribly redundant and wasteful, but it also means that quite often you need only keep the final message in the thread), so I probably exchanged roughly four to five times as much e-mail all told, which speaks volumes about the overall benefits of e-mail as a collaboration tool – i.e, they’re negative, to say the least, and considering that six years ago I was filing all my messages and hitting 400MB a quarter, it’s nearly twelve times worse.

This is the kind of thing we were told that intranets and corporate wikis would do away with (what I’ve come to call the mirage of document management for browsers), and yet it’s never happened. That’s information technology for you – making productivity worse in general. No wonder that some people still do everything with pen and pencil…

Having had more than my fair share of dealing with e-mail systems in the past and considering the way storage prices have far surpassed the “dirt cheap” stage, I cannot help but wonder if we wouldn’t all be better off using some kind of single instance store (which Exchange does pretty well in the first place) and simply store everything on the server, but, alas, I have to deal with (generous, I’m told) storage quotas that are simply not enough…