Academic journal article T H E Journal (Technological Horizons In Education)

You've Got Mail Again (and Again): The Daily Blizzard of Electronic Communications Makes One Nostalgic for a Good Old-Fashioned Face-to-Face

Academic journal article T H E Journal (Technological Horizons In Education)

You've Got Mail Again (and Again): The Daily Blizzard of Electronic Communications Makes One Nostalgic for a Good Old-Fashioned Face-to-Face

Article excerpt

THERE'S A SCENE in the movie L.A. Story where Steve Martin's character leaves his house to visit his next-door neighbor. Instead of simply walking the few feet between the two doorsteps, Martin gets into his car and drives along the curb, parks, and gets out.

It's a joke about the lengths to which Los Angeles residents have become enslaved to their cars, to the point of forfeiting their common sense, as well as the pleasures of a short walk. It's a scene much like the one played out each day in my office cubicle, with e-mail substituting for the automobile.

I am annoyed, confounded, and ultimately fatigued by the number of e-mails I get from people who work within walking distance of me. And I don't mean much walking distance either. They're close enough to wad up a Post-It note and hit me with it. Or they could try something that would really surprise me--pay me a visit. I mean, I'm right here. A few feet down the hall, near the temperamental color copier and the secret stash of taffy.

Last month, T.H.E. ran a story about the emergence of unified communications, in which all of one's communication technologies--e-mail, instant message, cell phone--are routed through a single server. I'd like to unify my communications, all right. I'd like to unify them right out the door--at least for a day or two, so I could connect with someone the pre-millennial way: conversation.

It's not easy to come out against e-mail. It's such a useful technology, and can free you up to say things at work that you shouldn't say out loud, such as, "Hey, did you see the nose on the new IT guy? Hello!" Pius, I should be the last guy to find fault with a device that keeps you sedentary. …

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