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This is my first post on this blog, and I hate to start off sounding like a hater, but I get the sense that Jeff Atwood doesn't appreciate email because he doesn't have what some people call a "real job." He spends his days sitting around at home with his cats and blogging (to be fair, it appears he did have a "real job" for three years, so I guess he has a little experience). Right now, in Jeff's world, it makes sense to get rid of email. But we don't all live in that world. In railing against email, he is definitely not putting himself in the shoes of us "working folks." Here's what's in my inbox: - a message to me from a visual designer (i.e. artist) telling me where the jpgs are (I need to know this so I can put them on the site). Okay, so obviously the designer is not going to twitter or FB this. So why don't they IM me? Well, for one thing, once I close the IM window the information is gone, so I have to dig through some IM logs to find it. Here's another reason: if I'm logged off, she CAN'T send it, so what is she supposed to do, wait around and not move on to other tasks until I return to my desk? She (understandably) wants to fire off a message and forget about it. Finally, here's another reason (probably the most important one). Follow along with this: I put the wrong assets on the site, I push the site live, the client yells at us or fires us for putting the wrong assets up, and then I blame the designer for not sending me the right info (I personally wouldn't do this, but many would). If she's not logging that IM conversation, then it's my word against hers. But if she has an email that she can point to, then I get in trouble, not her. And since we use Exchange, our emails are archived on a server that only IT has access to, so even if she has a tech-savvy friend outside the company, if she didn't send it then there's no way she can fake an email. Oh, and another thing -- the people CCed on this email are carefully selected to be the exact people that need to know this info. Me, two producers, the QA person, technical project manager, another designer. Account managers not CCed -- they don't deal with this stuff, ever. Random other programmers and team members not working on this project are not CCed. If she sent an IM, two producers and the tech project manager and maybe QA are all going to be going to her desk or IMming her and saying "Hey, did you send that image to Jason?" And she's going to be saying "yes" like 3 or 4 times. And again, more importantly, when the producer forgets to tell the client that the image is live, and then later comes to the visual designer and says "you never told me it was ready", this designer can point to the email and say "Yes I did, here it is -- I CCed you." Believe me, this happens all the time, even on the less backstabbing accounts. Anyway I could go on but the TL/DR is that it's really about accountability. Email is used nowadays in much the same way that good-old on-paper MAIL used to be used. If somebody wants to send you an official communication, they send you an email. It's no accident that when you register for "e-billing" by your utility company, there's no option to register for "facebook billing" or IM billing or twitter billing. Email is for official business. I guess Jeff must not have much official business to conduct, which makes sense, since from what I understand he's mostly about blogging -- which is fine, that's what you do, but don't make the mistake of assuming everyone's life is just like yours.
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Apr 22, 2010