Total Pageviews

Friday, February 18, 2011

Email Communication

Email has changed the way we communicate in the 20th century. Prior to email the main ways an organization communicated was by memo, letter, or verbally. These usually required the communicator to plan their communication and formally compose it before sending out a memo. Although this planning and editing helped to eliminate mistakes and gave the communicator time to think about the content of the communication it was not always fast. Email is one solution to this problem, giving people in an organization an instant way to communicate. This relatively new technology has many positive and negative aspects and not everyone's opinion is the same on how effective it is. Lack of written rules on how to send out internal email communication has ruined more than a few careers from people being excessively informal, or sending out an inappropriate communication in the heat of the moment. I will try to explore if email technology is really an asset.
In terms of business communication, email is a recent tool. Email is most simply defined as a short electronic message; it is a method of exchanging digital messages from one electronic source to another. "It is a more up to date method of transmitting data, text files, digital photos, and audio and video files from one computer to another over the internet."(thinkquest). Email did not become popular until 1990 and since then it has become a major business and personal communication tool.
Email began in the early 1980’s using simple technology at the University of California at Berkeley, where the BSD Unix operating system was developed. Eric Allman created the sendmail program, which has become the most commonly used SMPT server on the Internet. "In 1988, Vinton Cerf arranged for the connection of MCI Mail to the NSFNET through the Corporation for the National Research Initiative (CNRI) for "experimental use", providing the first sanctioned commercial use of the Internet." (Crocker, n.d., p.1). In 1993, American Online (AOL) and Delphi began to connect email systems to the Internet. This began a global standard and the large-scale adoption of Internet email.
By 2002 reports had come out that email had grown to be the second most popular communications channel, following after the number one channel of voice. By 2006, the predicted number of emails sent each day was 36 billion. At the current time, the amount of email sent out in a day is so large that it is hard to find anyone willing to compile the data; it has become a way of life. The majority of companies in the United States and developed countries use some form of email.
Typing an email can be a fast, convenient, way to get your message to an individual. It saves time because it is faster than running around and arranging meetings with numerous groups. In an age where we want to “run faster, fly faster, access faster, and click faster” (Gitlin, 2002, p. 73) the speed of email is an important tool. It can save money and resources by cutting back on the use of paper. It cuts labor costs because if a group of employees take five minutes to read an email instead of taking 15 minutes to go to a meeting, productivity increases measurably. “An advantage of email and email newsletters it that they can reach a widely dispersed population simultaneously” (Gillis n.d.,p. 265).
The delivery of a message simultaneously eliminates the need to worry about who receives company information first.
Email can be better for our environment than the office memo. It can eliminate the need to print numerous memos, saving trees and environmental pollution. Many people now post on the bottom of their email reminders such as, ‘please consider the impact on natural resources before printing this email.’ With the ability to archive important emails and pull them up instantly there is little need to ever print out a memo. With today's new green movement this a great place for organizations to start moving towards a cleaner, more environmentally friendly, way to do business.
There are many negatives to email communication. Some people feel it is impersonal and at times, it is hard to get your message across. This stems from the fact that people do not know the demeanor, body language, or attitude of the sender. What may be a simple reminder such as do not forget to send in your monthly forms, interprets as, ‘they think I am an idiot, and will not remember to send in my forms.’ With email being less personable than face-to-face communication, the sender is not able to take into account the attitude of the receiver. It the receiver is in a bad mood they may interpret messages as hostile even if they are not intended to be that way.
Over-communication can be an issue with email messages. If each department feels, they can send out a companywide email each day suddenly employees are receiving 20 or more emails a day. At this point, they are not productive because they are spending the day reading email. “Efficiency and productivity were problems for slaves, not philosophers” (Postman, 1993 p. 25)and people can essentially become a slave to their email. Even worse, they may quit reading the email communication and just delete it, missing important information. Some people over-communicate by hitting the reply all button every time they reply to an email. Sometimes hundreds of people get to find out that the sender cannot attend the meeting because their child has a soccer game. These types of emails are annoying and time consuming to delete.
Email has brought a completely new avenue for communication into the organization. It has opened up the global market giving organizations an easy and inexpensive way to communicate with overseas offices. Applying new laws and rules to society and office protocol comes with this adoption of this new technology. Email will never completely replace the traditional paper memos and letters, but it will help eliminate the environmental stress of printing communications. With proper training on how the technology works and awareness of the ramifications of an inadequately written email, employees in an organization will be successful in utilizing email as a communication tool.

Crocker, D. (n.d.), Email History. Retrieved from 
Etchells, M. (2008). Exposed: Email's worst habits [IT email management]. Engineering & Technology (17509637), 3(9), 58-60. doi:10.1049/et:20080908
Gitlin, T. (2002). Media Unlimited: How the torrent of images and sounds overwhelms our lives. New York, NY: Holt.
Marsters, K. (n.d.), The-Pros-and-Cons-of-Email-in-the-Business-World, Retrieved from
Postman, N. (1993). Technopoly: The surrender of culture to technology. New York, NY: Vintage
Thinkquest (n.d.) The History of Email, retreived from

Friday, February 4, 2011

Online dating, personalities, and profiles or Is my prince a toad?

My internet personality includes a Facebook Page, but it is so locked down I doubt anyone who does not know me extremely well could find me. I have only close friends on my list of friends so in that context, it is easy to be transparent about whom I am. As an experiment, I am looking into online dating to see if people represent themselves online as they do in person. Since I am opening myself up to a new type of online community, I figured I could get some of my questions answered. Do people represent themselves online in a correct manner? If I find someone who looks interesting, will my newly discovered “prince” become a toad in real life?

In order to get started on my experiment, the online dating site first had me build a profile about who I am. Many publications about online communication discuss the concept of building a profile.

“Establish contact with each other by introducing yourselves. In order for the project to work, it’s important to build the right foundations, so this first part of the online discussion will be relatively extensive. For example, write a 500 word portrait of yourself, trying to give you counterpart/s a comprehensive idea about who you are” (Thurlow, 2004, p. 171).

Posting a short essay about who I am was more difficult than I thought. Deciding what to tell a virtual stranger about myself leaves me vulnerable to many different impressions. There is even a mindset that you must post what will bring you the most interest. One Scientific American article talked about one person’s view on marketing “Chris was in marketing, you see, and to her it was simply a good strategy to post photographs that would draw in as many "customers" as possible” (Epstein, 2007, p.1). I finally ended up explaining that I was a professional and a student and I was simply looking at the site to see what it had to offer. I chose not to post a picture of myself so people I knew would not recognize me instantly. Once my profile was in place I began my search to see how other people represented themselves.

To my surprise, I found one of the men I often see running on the Spokane’s Centennial Trail. A few months ago, he took the time to introduce himself to me. At that time, I asked a few people who were in his social circle about him. One of my friends told me he was a total player and when they saw him with a woman they thought, “Look, there is the next victim.” I decided to ask a second friend without giving her the first friend’s opinion. Her reply can in an e-mail written in all caps “TOTAL PLAYER AND CONFIRMED BACHLOR.” I re-read his profile and there was nothing in there to suggest that he was a player and was not interested in a lasting relationship. As close as he got to revealing that he did not want a lasting relationship was, “I'm just looking for person that is compatible with me and would like to share common interests.” Nevertheless, I would have to read between the lines to figure out this means he does not want a relationship. His profile made him sound like a great person, completely different from what others had told me. Perhaps this is a form of identity play for him. “CMC offers a special opportunity for identity play – pretending to be someone else or just portraying different aspects of yourself” (Thurlow, 2004, p. 100).

The next person I found on the dating site I did not know but I decided to wink at him because he seemed like a nice person and was visually appealing. His profile said he was not “a jerk or a player” at least twice. He came across as athletic, smart with a romantic side. There was not a single mention of liking to party or drink. He winked back but I did not reply because I was now on a mission to find out who he was. While I was on Facebook looking at my friend’s updates, I saw this man was friends with someone I knew. This made it easy to look at this man’s Facebook page. What a difference; on Facebook he portrayed himself as a partier. The majority of the pictures on his Facebook were of him with a beer in his hand hanging out with a bar crowd. I do not know if he portrays one side of himself to his dates and another with the guys. Either way it was enough information for me to say, ‘No thanks, I prefer someone who does not feel he needs to hide his “real” personality.’

“Current theorists now regard identity as being much more flexible, multidimensional and … socially constructed … It is a process we are working on all the time” (Thurlow, 2004, p. 97). Perhaps these men are just working on portraying the identity into which they were evolving. Perhaps it is too much pressure. “Among the 125 million people in the U.S. who visit online dating and social-networking sites are a growing number of dullards who steal personal profiles, life philosophies, even signature poems” (Saranow, 2008, p.1). Nobody wants to advertise himself as a jerk, and people try to put their best face forward, but there is a fine line when a person’s online persona and their real persona are two different people. These two examples of online identities did not put me at ease about finding a “real” relationship online. I worry that once I get past the initial impression I will find that my prince has become a toad.


Epstein, R. (2007). The Truth about Online Dating. Scientific American, Retrieved from:

Saranow, J. (2008). The Cut-and-Paste Personality. The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved from:

Thurlow, C., Lengel, L., and Tomic, A. (2009). Computer mediated communication. London: Sage Publications Ltd.