Slow down, take time to make the moment last [telecom]

A lesson for some of us, maybe?

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Slow down, take time to make the moment last Marcus Padley October 2, 2010

I am in Bali. A BlackBerry and iPhone-free zone for the Padley family. Not by decree but by choice. Our mobile phones have burbled a couple of times in the room safe but I'll be buggered if we're letting anyone chase us around out here.

If you've ever been surfing at Echo Beach at sunset, you'll appreciate that there are times when the leash on your ankle is enough. Time with the family and oneself is possibly the most valuable time of the year without someone else's agenda disrupting it.

But still some of my fellow guests seem glued to the outside world. An electronic leash on their ear. Glad I'm not married to you.

I was once impressed with the out of office email message of one of my previous editors. It informed emailers that "I am out of the office until January 12th. When I return, I will delete my whole inbox. If your message was important send it again when I'm back.''

(more in the article)

-- Regards, David.

David Clayton Melbourne, Victoria, Australia. Knowledge is a measure of how many answers you have, intelligence is a measure of how many questions you have.

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David Clayton
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Lawrence Lessig, noted IT guy, on one occasion some years ago found he had X hundred (or was it X thousand?) backlogged, long unanswered emails in his email IN box which he had briefly noted and saved, really meaning to read or reply to them when he had a chance. But since it was obvious that he was never really going to be able to do this, he decided his only out was to formally declare "email bankruptcy".

Bankruptcy procedure was to have a robotic program return a copy of every unanswered email message in this IN box to its sender, along with a cover letter explaining that he was declaring email bankruptcy, then deleting all the original messages, and changing to a new (unidentified) email address.

Cover letter also contained a code that allowed anyone receiving it, if they wished, to send a single one-page reply back to him at a temporary one-time address (**one** such email per sending email address), which he promised he would read -- but not necessarily reply to.

***** Moderator's Note *****

Pioneers of the past have shown us the way, and I hope many more will follow. The constant, and constantly increasing, bombardment of electronic I.O.U.'s is diminishing our ability to draw boundaries between our personal lives and our public ones.

I've known employees in major corporations, who came back from vacation to find their email inboxes were at a manageable level for the first time in years. Their "Vacation macro" auto-responders had restored the control they hadn't know how to claim directly: by (effectively) ordering email senders to figure it out for themselves or wait for the recipient's return, the automated "Not now" replies had shown their owners how important it is to draw boundaries between what others want and what they were willing to do. Those who took the lesson to heart, and who had the hutzpah needed to change their habits, started telling real-live people "not now" and "that has to wait".

I never knew a single one who regretted the change: they had discovered anew the lesson which every kid in a schoolyard learns, and that is that if you try to ignore a bully, you become a target. In short, they realized that email from their cow-orkers is often just an electronic spitball: at best, a plea for attention or sympathy; at worst, a demand for someone else to do what the sender either didn't want to, or wasn't capable of, doing for themselves.

Bill Horne Moderator

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