Mike Vickers' Blog

April 26, 2010

Instant Communications – Think twice

Filed under: Communications — derryvickers @ 9:07 pm

Andy Gilpin at the West Lothian Coffee Morning last Friday brought up two communications topics worth considering a little further:

  1. Stop wasting time following your emails.  Look at them before 9 am, at lunch time and after 6pm
  2. Tweets are now being archived in the US.

Number 1 is certainly worth taking note and if possible following.  The trouble as I see it is, checking emails as soon as they arrive is at best only justifiable if you are waiting for a reply,  at worst it is habit forming – it’s like smoking, hardly rewarding but something you must do.  In the old days the Royal Mail delivered your letters by 9 am and you lived with it – now you can see you emails arriving as snippets.  Mine appear at the bottom right of the screen.  But like all habits you can live with them or take pills to help give them up.

To me far the more important one is that Tweets are being archived.  Already every note you ever wrote is now available to everyone across the globe whether they want just to look in or worse, dig up some incriminating evidence against you.  You can still delete your tweets as you can your discussions on Linked-In but soon they will be archived and it all becomes too late, they are for posterity

It first struck me hard that everything would never be the same again when I followed the Hutton Inquiry into the death of David Kelly – remember Hutton – it was only seven years ago.  At the inquiry a whole raft of emails were brought before it written by everyone from the PM downwards. 

Andy said that emails should be at most a couple of lines long, but to me they are the replacement of the letter.  With the letter you had a chance to reread what you had typed or further back in time what someone had typed on your behalf.  You had time to reconsider – tone down any aggression, be more polite, less libellous.  No more – you look at the text on the screen – looks OK – Send and it’s gone after five, ten minutes thought, no more.   I’m sure that some of the emails that came before Hutton would never have gone out as letters.

More recently Stuart MacLennan, potential Labour candidate no longer – sent stupid tweets; even 140 chars is enough to finish yourself off for life.  I bet the Foreign Office chappie circulated his funny ideas to welcome the Pope as an email – he has now been moved elsewhere!

So what to do:

  • Take a little time, waste a tree, and print your emails, read them then send them.  It might just save your reputation.
  • Tweet softly because you tread on my dreams (with apologies to WB Yeats)

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