“Email is the place where information goes to die”

A sentiment worth pondering, given how most information is shared in higher ed.

And can we begin to calculate the losses from silo-based word processing programs like Word?

Roland tracks the origin, and Boris is his usual cogent self:

I still believe it: email and mailing list is great for quick back and forths. It’s terrible for synthesizing information and finding a conclusion a week later.

I’m in favour of web native / crawlable archive systems. Email for notification and quick discussion, but give it a permalink to the conclusion.

I have many (many, many, …) gripes with Basecamp, but even if you use it as nothing more than a centralized email archive, it’s pretty decent. Other strategies? The Trac wiki/ticketing/SVN repository, email enabled forums (with RSS, of course), etc.

Synthesizing and collecting all the resources we deal with is import[ant? – ed.]. Help make information not die, your future self will thank you.

I have plenty of gripes with Basecamp myself, but when I talk with people and consider their particular information management desires and problems, it’s amazing how often I end up recommending it. And even more amazing that a competitor with similar attributes has yet to establish itself.

This is my first exposure to Trac, but it does look promising.

And then again, considering the wash of information flooding over us, perhaps some sort of gentle happy hunting ground for information is not such a terrible idea — of course, I have no idea how to distinguish valuable information from the flotsam.

4 thoughts on ““Email is the place where information goes to die”

  1. What are your gripes with Basecamp? Inquiring minds want to know. It is amazing to me, too, how good an approximate fit it is for many tasks. It’s at or near the top of the “good enough” list. (I’m thinking in particular of Dennis Trinkle’s unbeatable twelve insights here.)

    I don’t believe the last clause, by the way. 🙂 You can’t duck your expertise or insight or intelligence or judgment that easily!

  2. Actually, my main gripe has more to do with how some people use it. In one sense Basecamp is too good, and allows the perpetuation of a lot of bad habits (since most can be easily dealt with). And I wish I could take stuff public more…

    On the last clause, for once I wasn’t indulging reflexive self-abuse… I was noting how often a seemingly insignificant email becomes useful months or years down the road. So I would find it difficult to designate types of information that could be comfortably and safely ditched.

  3. Have you tried searching in Basecamp? It’s per project, not your entire space, and the search is terrible.

    Writeboard and the Basecamp markup language has mangled my postings time without count.

    How about typing a whole bunch of stuff in, going away, coming back and hitting submit and getting “your session has expired”?

    Hmmm…maybe the curse of 10,000 accounts, where you have a Basecamp and so do all the people you work with, and yet you need a separate account username and password (which are always different, of course) to get into each one.

    No dates for to-do’s?

    That’s probably good for starters 😛

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