Whizzing around companies’ electronic mail system is increasing to an almost unmanageable extent; users have become fascinated with their keyboards.

That has led many people to run amok, wasting valuable items for so many of us. Faced with a screen, full of electronic junk, many want things to change.

Formerly, of course, people used paper for announcements of all kinds, but that entailed time and money. However, once an office is computerized, the cost of sending in-house messages to hundreds of terminals is as small as a fraction of a second of a computer time; messages can be spread easily to other cities too.

It costs less than a dollar to send a three-page report, using a high speed electronic mail service. On arrival it can be passed on to more screens, which is much less onerous than sending by a facsimile machine.

Not too long ago a major company in the United States requested the thousands of its worldwide, in-house electronic-mail networks not send each other Christmas greetings. Another large organization no longer sends company announcements to each of its many thousand electronic-mail users. Instead, it sends a short note saying an announcement has been made and telling users where on the system they can read it at a convenient time.

IBM at one time stated it was able to improve productivity tremendously because employees were asked to put forth innovative ideas that anyone could use. Inasmuch as people feel that they must keep electronic mail on file, the system choked.

Adding to problems are the more frivolous abuses of electronic mail. At some companies people do on-screen gambling, playing poker, placing personal classified advertisements, and other wasted of time. Unfortunately, many act like a spoiled child sending emails at an unbelievable rate, rather like the texting mania.

At one time it was believed that productivity could be improved because employees were to be asked to put forth innovative ideas for anyone to read. As these messages were processed and stored, the computers were overwhelmed by excessive use. Clearly, most had more important things that required attention.

Some companies have tried to reduce the flow by limiting employees’ distribution lists. Others charge departments for the use of electronic mail.

Clearly, this process has been carried too far. Some do not go to bed before checking their email! Obviously, reforms are needed. Perhaps as a minimum we should recreate systems for personal messages.


Bruce Whitestone