Email is for Real

I am a pioneer in email. I started using it as soon as it was available. I was one of the first half dozen or less in my area radio club that started using it with Packet Radio in our Amateur Radio hobby networks. Back then I envisioned computers and digital communication as the future of communications.

My first serious non radio use of email was with Comp-U-Serve out of Columbus, Ohio. I introduced email to Lennox Industries in our newly formed DMA marketing group. We were a scattered group of 40 dealer support people across the country. I had been using email for years by then and surprised most associates had never heard of email.

We used large monochrome laptops that only booted from a (then brand new) 3.5 inch floppy drive. We had to swap out the boot disk for programs and data. (The good old days…) Printing in the office was taking your disk to a computer that had a printer connected. No office network then. It was called “sneaker net”.

I held training sessions for the 40 people on how to access Comp-U-Serve for messages. The service charged ten cents a minute ($6.00/hr) for access. I used a program (there were several variations) where every email message was written in advance. When I checked in, the program down loaded my new received mail and up loaded my send mail, then checked out. The connection lasted about 3 to 5 minutes. I was using phone coupled 1200 baud modems, 9600 baud was high tech!

Cell phones existed but were large and expensive, both to rent and air time. Email was a great (fast) and low cost messaging system. The other choice was FAX which was king of the hill then. Surface mail took more than a week to get to me in New Hampshire from Texas. It is probably still the same today.

Flash Forward to Today

Email and its quick messaging variations, IMS, Twitter, Face Book, etc. now rule printed communications. The entire planet is wired and every printed communication can be done via electronic means. The Internet is a household word. There has never been a doubt in my mind we would come to this.

The birth of basic digital communication was the telegraph and the first “official” message sent, “What hath God wrought…” was such a humble message, but a truly great beginning.

My current occupation is based on digital communication. I constantly have my email open as I am in front of a computer almost all the time. Now email comes into my cell phone so I am never far away.

I called my first business two way radio my “electronic leash”. Cell phones with email are 1000 time worse.

A problem I face today is there are still a lot of holdouts who don’t embrace the new communication technology. I have family members who check email once a week. I assume it is because they don’t get much email and that its self may be a blessing. They may be the smart ones. It’s not that they don’t have it, they just don’t use it. They have to send to receive…

Yes, this may seem like a 1939  Buck Rogers and the 21st century technology, but it  is what it is. I have to have patience with the small businesses that only check email once a day or less. I have to adjust to small contractors who insist on a FAX and not email. They think a FAX signature is proof…

Also Internet sites with out of date information really irritate me. I don’t order from such inattentive business sites. Are they really in business? Business emails that go unanswered for days are still common. There are folks who still think email inquires are not important to their business. Dead wrong, but they don’t know it.

Phone calls are one solution. I need to do more ear to ear communication. But some small to mid size businesses still put the dumbest or newest hire on the front line phone. I figure an email can be transferred or directly sent to a knowledgeable person who can provide information on their time schedule. The phone call is immediate. Some of us don’t like, “I am on another call (problem, issue, etc), can I get back to you.” I realize a phone call can be a very rude interruption. Emails by their non-live immediacy, are not.

Voice mail on my desk phone is almost a dead service in my company. I usually get a cell phone call or sent an email saying . “I called you and got voice mail… here is what I need…”. The email is far better and more accurate than me writing it down. Have you ever run a voice mail ten times to try and pick out a muffled word or number?  I prefer voice mails that just say, “call me…”

Of course some folks can’t type or proof read an email or forget attachments… such is life. Ha!

Email is now king of the hill. Accept it, get there, or be square.

Parting Thought

Cursive writing must not be taught in schools these days. Perhaps it is considered an art and not a necessity. I see horrible examples of  longhand from our college level new hires.

I have peripheral neuropathy so I sometimes spend an hour practicing writing in Cursive (longhand). It is very readable when I take my time but far from beautiful. I enjoy the motion flow and the action, especially when I use a roller ball ink pen and I can see wet ink being absorbed and drying into the paper. I love (now rare) fountain pens for the same reason. My written thoughts are random and not a message to someone. Actually it is my way of brainstorming. I find it calming.

Yes, I strongly support email, digital communication and keyboards, but I still want to stay in touch with the very personal experience of cursive handwriting. Even if I don’t send it to someone, it is not bad communication to keep it simple stupid.