Was E-mail a Mistake? | The New Yorker


31 bookmarks. First posted by brentf 14 days ago.


A major implication of research into distributed systems is that, without synchrony, such systems are just too hard for the average programmer to tame. It turns out that asynchrony makes coördination so complicated that it’s almost always worth paying the price required to introduce at least some synchronization.
ux  office  collaboration  productivity  email  async  distributedcomputing 
18 hours ago by yorksranter
The mathematics of distributed systems suggests that meetings might be better.
email  productivity  communication  collaboration  work 
2 days ago by mirthe
The walls of the Central Intelligence Agency’s original headquarters, in Langley, Virginia, contain more than thirty miles of four-inch steel tubing. The tubes were installed in the early nineteen-sixties, as part of an elaborate, vacuum-powered intra-office mail system. via Pocket
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2 days ago by puzzlement
The walls of the Central Intelligence Agency’s original headquarters, in Langley, Virginia, contain more than thirty miles of four-inch steel tubing. The tubes were installed in the early nineteen-sixties, as part of an elaborate, vacuum-powered intra-office mail system. via Pocket
5 days ago by iomadh
The walls of the Central Intelligence Agency’s original headquarters, in Langley, Virginia, contain more than thirty miles of four-inch steel tubing. The tubes were installed in the early nineteen-sixties, as part of an elaborate, vacuum-powered intra-office mail system. via Pocket
Pocket 
5 days ago by driptray
“Save the Tubes.”
article  productivity  email 
8 days ago by MrGuilt
Cal Newport:
<p>Anyone who works in a standard office environment has firsthand experience with the problems that followed the enthusiastic embrace of asynchronous communication. As the distributed-system theorists discovered, shifting away from synchronous interaction makes coördination more complex. The dream of replacing the quick phone call with an even quicker e-mail message didn’t come to fruition; instead, what once could have been resolved in a few minutes on the phone now takes a dozen back-and-forth messages to sort out. With larger groups of people, this increased complexity becomes even more notable. Is an unresponsive colleague just delayed, or is she completely checked out? When has consensus been reached in a group e-mail exchange? Are you, the e-mail recipient, required to respond, or can you stay silent without holding up the decision-making process? Was your point properly understood, or do you now need to clarify with a follow-up message? Office workers pondering these puzzles—the real-life analogues of the theory of distributed systems—now dedicate an increasing amount of time to managing a growing number of never-ending interactions.

Last year, the software company RescueTime gathered and aggregated anonymized computer-usage logs from tens of thousands of people. When its data scientists crunched the numbers, they found that, on average, users were checking e-mail or instant-messenger services like Slack once every six minutes. Not long before, a team led by Gloria Mark, the U.C. Irvine professor, had installed similar logging software on the computers of employees at a large corporation; the study found that the employees checked their in-boxes an average of seventy-seven times a day. Although we shifted toward asynchronous communication so that we could stop wasting time playing phone tag or arranging meetings, communicating in the workplace had become more onerous than it used to be. Work has become something we do in the small slivers of time that remain amid our Sisyphean skirmishes with our in-boxes.</p>


The more email you get, the less work you do.
email  productivity 
8 days ago by charlesarthur
Fascinating article on knowing when to meet and when to send an email.
from twitter_favs
8 days ago by rkonow
Digital messaging was supposed to make our work lives easier and more efficient, but the mathematics of distributed systems suggests that meetings might be better.
productivity  communication  e-mail 
9 days ago by terry
E-mail was supposed to make our work lives easier and more efficient, but the mathematics of distributed systems suggests that meetings might be better.…
from instapaper
9 days ago by mleduc
Cal Newport writes about the invention of e-mail and recent studies in the field of distributed systems which suggest that synchronous forms of communication, such as meetings, are more efficient.
email  collaboration  productivity  article  scrum 
9 days ago by garyleatherman
According to oral histories maintained by the C.I.A., employees were saddened when, in the late nineteen-eighties, during an expansion of the headquarters, this steampunk mail system was shut down. Some of them reminisced about the comforting thunk, thunk of the capsules arriving at a station; others worried that internal office communication would become unacceptably slow, or that runners would wear themselves out delivering messages on foot. The agency’s archives contain a photograph of a pin that reads “Save the Tubes.”
email 
10 days ago by craniac
E-mail has come to dominate our office communication. What will our grandchildren think of this period in time? https://t.co/SqpZ9cFy8K
from instapaper
11 days ago by hugochisholm
Illustration by Shira Inbar The walls of the Central Intelligence Agency’s original headquarters, in Langley, Virginia, contain more than thirty miles of…
from instapaper
12 days ago by indirect
If the goal of work is indeed efficiency and productivity, then yes, I see the point.
digital_minimalism 
12 days ago by kirschsubjudice
Cal Newport writes about the invention of e-mail and recent studies in the field of distributed systems which suggest that synchronous forms of communication,…
from instapaper
13 days ago by johnrclark
The walls of the Central Intelligence Agency’s original headquarters, in Langley, Virginia, contain more than thirty miles of four-inch steel tubing. The tubes were installed in the early nineteen-sixties, as part of an elaborate, vacuum-powered intra-office mail system.
13 days ago by AnthonyBaker