The Proliferation of Email

Are you an empty, or an overflowing inbox kind of person? Do you slash and burn, or hoard your emails? I like to keep my emails, both sent and received, or at least those that convey information. The Spam definitely goes in the trash. Nasty Spam. Who needs that anyway? Then there are the circulars and subscriptions, they get quickly scanned for anything interesting, then dumped. They don't convey lasting information for the most part, they just call for attention.

So what I keep is personal mail. Real people who've provide me with facts, or posed questions. My sent mail is personal, I wrote it. My requests or opinions. For at least the last 10 years now I've used email as my preferred method of communications, although in some cases that's been wrong. Some people just prefer to talk and see email as impersonal. To those people, I'm sorry, and I have recently learnt from that. Email just suited my style I suppose. Being slightly introverted, not wanting to butt in, the email is the perfect 'by the back door' way of communicating. Allowing the recipient to decide when and how to digest it. Or that was my take.

According to my yearly email archives, I now keep twice as much as 5 years ago, assuming my keep/trash filtering has been the same, which I think it has. In 2001, I kept just under 1,000 emails, but by 2005, that was up to 2,200. Sending was much the same story, just over 1,000 in 2000, and 2,200 in 2005. This year looks like a 20% increase so far. As for the junk, in the first two and half months of this year, there are 2,000 messages in my deleted file. That's spam not caught by my spam filter, and the other less important things that get filtered out. So I reckon on somewhere between 12,000 to 20,000 messages coming my way in a year, spam included.

The convenience of email is perhaps one of the reasons why its so popular. I wouldn't have written that many letters. By the time my career got going, fax was the way of business communication, and with many of my customers in the '90's being overseas, fax and the telephone was my method. I remember I used to have a large cardboard box into which I put all of my sent and received faxes. That was my archive. By the dotcom boom, email had replaced the fax. I now keep all of my emails for similar reasons. Every now and again, I need something from a few weeks or months ago, and occasionally, years. We make many important business decisions via email these days, that email is our written record. Our consciousness. Mine at least. I suppose the question is, is it right? Is there something better? What's yours?