22.7.13

IT'S CALLED SYSTEM IMPROVEMENT TIME.

At Inside Higher Ed, Joshua Kim considers going cold turkey on electronic mail.  He's right about one thing.
You will be shocked at how many e-mails that you are cc'd on. By how many e-mails that don't really seem that urgent when read 8 or 9 days after they were sent, but that you would have dropped everything to answer had you been online.  You will wonder how you ever get anything done if you get so many e-mails in a day. The sheer volume of marginally useful and still time consuming e-mails will make you wonder if we have created our own digital torture devices.  You will think about how you got yourself in a situation where you feel the need to constantly check your various screens and devices for new e-mail messages.
"Marginally useful" is an optimality condition. Lower the marginal cost of sending the inquiry, and it should come as no surprise that less marginally beneficial inquiries get through.  Keep that theorem in mind as you evaluate Mr Kim's summation.
The truth is that we work so much because our work is interesting.

We stay in constant contact because constant contact is the new way that people work.

Going offline for an extended period of time is neither desirable or feasible.    You will try to convince your colleagues to give it a shot, and mostly you will fail.
In the academy, part of doing interesting work is giving yourself the thinking time to get the ideas right, or mostly right, rather than being perpetually distracted by the latest virus-laden attachment from some deanlet or information technology manager.

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