Saturday, October 9, 2010

The email black hole

The whole world is far too dependent on email. I am no exception. I have three email accounts that I check many times daily --- and usually I respond fairly quickly, even to things that I could probably ignore with few ill effects. But email is my main connection to most of the world, so I try to keep the lines of communication flowing properly.

This summer, however, something unimaginable happened – my email broke down. (shudder!) I didn’t notice it at first because only a small fraction of my emails were getting lost --- being mistakenly forwarded to a black hole of the cyber-aether. As the term began this fall, increasingly people would say to me “didn’t you get my email?”, and I’d just look puzzled. Finally, this week I figured out that there really was a problem and I started investigating. To my complete horror, I discovered a hidden backlog of 363 emails sent over the last few months. So (after fixing the forwarding problem) I started going through all 363 emails. Perhaps not surprisingly, it turned out that of these 363 emails that I was so horrified to have missed, only 6 turned out to be important enough to actually require a response (and/or an apology for not having responded sooner), and actually even these were not all that crucial. 6 out of 363 --- a pretty small fraction. Considering how much time I spend reading and writing email, I’m starting to wonder if I might not be better off just to send them all down the black hole.

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