A related aside: I'm coming up on approximately a year and a half of not listening to music. Not because I WANTED to, but largely because I had something like 80gbs of music at home and 80gbs of music at work. The logistics of combining these sets, checking for repeats (there's a lot) and then putting it all in one easily accessible place was beyond my grad school addled brain. In fact, my boyfriend got so tired of all my different hard drives and constant complaints about lack of space that he ended up buying me a new one. He then had to nearly bludgeon me into consolidating everything.
The difference is wonderful. I only plug one thing into my computer when I get home. Nearly all of my music is there and wow, I've missed it. How could I survive in this colorless bland, music-less world for so long? I don't know. I blame shiny new things like programming and microcontrollers and all that rapid learning.
Anyway, how does this relate to email? Well, I checked mine last night after a week of ignoring it. And not only was it overwhelming, it was BORING. I haven't tallied everything yet because even THAT is boring. It looks like most of it is from companies hoping to extract money from me. You can tell how happy I am about that. I missed two messages of semi-importance, neither with major consequences. (I didn't miss my chance to win a million dollars, of course).
So. The point here is that if everyone wrote really awesome songs and sent those to me instead of emails about carpet sales, I would be so much more engaged. As it stands, I am having a hard time caring about email, which is great because if I am to generate new ways we might communicate in the future, it's great to know that we really don't need what we think we need right now.
Labels: design explorations, random ideas12.08.2009 // 0 Comments // READ FULL POST...
So I have approximately eight hours before I check my email. Inside my mind, I've been collating the emails I need to send as soon as I can but there are only two--one family-related and one school-related. I'm kind of surprised but I suppose email is more often self-replicating than it is necessary communication.
That's pretty much it for now. I plan on counting the emails I received over the week in groups such as work, personal, mailing list and commercial (I'm assuming the majority of emails I get are commercial even though I never willingly sign up for those lists. I just buy a lot of things online and apparently companies feel that gives them the right to harass me once a week for the rest of my life) and I'd like to make a qualitative illustration about emotions over the week.
Although I'm looking forward to sorting through my inbox, I think I will miss not having to bother with it. That may change my personal email habits moving forward but regardless, I will probably conduct this experiment again in a few weeks with more quantified results (throwing a quarter into a jar every time I think of email, for example).
Labels: design explorations, everything else, random ideas12.07.2009 // 0 Comments // READ FULL POST...
Today, some feelings of general panic. I had to send a file to Kinko's and it would've been easier to send it via email but because I could deliver it on a CD, I did that instead. Also, when I got to the laser cutter studio at school, I discovered that the computers tied to the laser cutters were infected with some "don't use a USB drive" virus. The work-around was to send the file to yourself in email and then grab it off the web from the laser cutter computer. Der. So if I really did not have email, I could've given the file to a friend to send to their email and have them retrieve it off the computer but that was too much of a pain in the ass so I logged into an email account that I never use and sent it from there.
I am beginning to feel somewhat anxious again although I'll be able to check my email tomorrow. My first thought when deciding to do this experiment (i.e., not use email) was that I would do it for a week. Then I thought that was too wimpy and so I should do it for the entire month of December. Then I chickened out and went back to a week, which I've decided is a good time frame for now.
Labels: design explorations, random ideas12.06.2009 // 0 Comments // READ FULL POST...
So it's the weekend and the email urge, slightly satisfied on Thursday, hasn't really built up again. I'm assuming it will on Monday, but for now, I'm happy to work on holiday presents and drink my coffee.
In addition to the anxiety I was feeling a couple of days ago, I also felt and continue to feel fairly isolated. Delightfully, though, that feeling is turning into quiet. Though I tend to like my media forms very, very loud, I like the inside of my head to be emotionally quiet. Frees up my working memory for things like information and ideas and spontaneous fun-having.
Labels: design explorations, random ideas12.05.2009 // 0 Comments // READ FULL POST...
So does less than a minute of email scanning to make sure there was nothing affecting my work in my email count? Probably. I caved. A little bit.
Although I am glad I did because on my quick skim, I discovered one request for files and then another request for the same files a couple of days later.
So I uploaded the files and sent a message via IM that they were uploaded--although I don't have the IM of the original file requester so I sent a message to the guy who sits a couple of people down from him. I'm no longer feeling anxiety about not checking my email since I saw everything in there and I was able to take care of things that seemed important. This brings me to another idea.
I still have not resumed regular visits to my inbox. That tiny crack yesterday, however, was enough to eradicate most of my anxiety. An idea for future exploration would be an inbox that you can see but not affect until some point in the future. I don't think this is a solution to anything because it is completely impractical (people want to do what they want to do when they want to do it), but it is something to consider. The primary feeling I've experienced so far with not checking my email is the worry that I'm missing something. A quick glance showed me what I did miss and then I continued on with the rest of my day worry-free.
So that's the negative part of this experiment-the anxiety. What is the positive part? I'm not sure yet. I don't feel particularly unburdened by not checking email. Or, I feel unburdened in general, but I think that's more a function of the semester end and the white noise maker completely drowning out my loud, early-rising neighbors (score!). I probably have more free time now that I'm not dealing with email, but I'm just filling that up with more reading of the internets. At any rate, I won't be resuming regular email behavior until next Monday so maybe something will come to me between now and then.
Labels: design explorations, random ideas12.04.2009 // 0 Comments // READ FULL POST...
So I had my friend write an email for me last night, in response to a Craigslist ad because I was interested in purchasing some area rugs. I am very close to caving right now because I am worried that there is some kind of time-sensitive communique that will screw up something large if I do not respond to it. Maybe someone is stealing my identity? Maybe I won a million dollars and I have to respond within 5 business days or I'll forfeit the winnings? Maybe a professor is trying to get some information from me by next week?
This kind of feeling is incredibly uncomfortable. I may either give my account information to a trusted friend and have them look for anything important or I may just go in myself for a few moments to make sure there's nothing dire. Or not. At any rate, although I knew this before hand, I now have a visceral understanding of why telling people to use email less is never going to work (that is pretty much the point of the Tyranny of Email. It is a solid read full of good quotes but the solutions to email overload that the author are difficult to enact.)
Labels: book reviews, design explorations12.03.2009 // 1 Comments // READ FULL POST...
Typically the first thing I do in the morning is check my email. Today I woke up thinking about how I'm not checking my email and whether or not I'm missing something. My guess is that I am not missing much but I miss it. I miss the habit. I also don't quite know what to do with my morning internet time now. It feels less personal--even though I almost never get personally relevant or poignant email anymore.
When I first started using email in college, I used it to talk with strangers on a mailing list about a book series (nerd) and I used it to write to random pen pals. I don't even remember how I found these people (or how they found me), but each email was a letter. It wasn't a one-liner or a request or a plan for future action. Each email did not have a purpose outside of itself. It was a joy to read and write, send and receive.
I haven't felt that in a few years. I maintained the habit of sending at least one letter via email every couple of weeks or so--usually to just one penpal because few people I know still enjoy letter writing. I'm not entirely sure why I stopped sending those letters, I just know I did.
It might be a function of graduate school. I have also stopped singing in the car which I fully blame on grad school depriving me of time to enjoy music. But whatever the reason, email is now utilitarian, dry, uninspiring. So no, I don't think I'm missing anything by not checking my email, but I definitely feel I've lost something I used to have.
Labels: design explorations, random ideas12.02.2009 // 0 Comments // READ FULL POST...
My final thesis topic is this--more or less. I will use explorative design and prototyping to generate speculative future perspectives on email overload. By this I mean I'm not redesigning an email client. There are more than enough people working on that. Rather, I am considering what email might look like further down the road. Or how we might view email differently. I haven't decided I need to be right, just different and interesting, which is hard enough in and of itself.
So, to that end, I am undertaking a series of experiments. For example, starting this week I am not checking my email at all. This is not because I think the solution to email overload is stop using it. But because I want to see how I, personally, deal with not having email. My last check was Monday night at 10:30 or so and I am already feeling anxious. I just remembered I was trying to schedule a few interviews about my thesis topic with people over email. Oops. Hopefully I can figure it out next week. In the meantime I am recording how I feel and how I do things, starting now.
8:30 AM - Stumbled out of bed to look up white noise makers on Amazon because my neighbors have been banging around for the last hour. I can buy but I won't know when things are shipped. I suppose that's okay. I'm sure I'll forget about it and it will be a surprise.
8:45 AM - Checking library record. I've got some overdue books. The library usually sends out an email with this information but maybe it's sitting in my inbox right now.
9:00 AM - Feeling slightly anxious but I can't tell if that's just normal anxiety. Otherwise, feeling mostly normal and finishing up my thesis prospectus.
10:00 AM - I have been messing around with a Chumby lately and I forgot that I had it set up to check my gmail. So I accidentally saw some of my emails. The only subject header I actually read (again, accidentally) was from Amazon, about my recent purchase. But now I'm wondering if I have anything else set to push my email like that.
11:49 AM - Habit noticed. I keep ritually flipping to my browser every half hour or so to look for parentheses in my Gmail tab. Of course I don't realize I'm doing it until I'm staring at the browser thinking "why did I flip here." Weird.
Labels: design explorations, random ideas12.01.2009 // 0 Comments // READ FULL POST...
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