The Weekly Round-Up: Woolly mammoths, email inboxes and Facebook over face-to-face

What does the size of your inbox say about you?
Written by The Round-Up, Contributor

What does the size of your inbox say about you?

Cavemen had it so easy.

After a long day of hunting, all they had to do was point to the woolly mammoth carcass sitting outside the cave to know that their place in the tribe was safe.

Fast forward a few millennia and the urge to publically prove your worth still exists - but in a slightly different format. Instead of counting up the number of mammoth tusks they've got, office workers have developed a less messy and more compact way of proving how important they are: the number of emails stuffed into their inbox.

As your co-workers return to the office from their holidays this week, some will proudly announce the huge number of emails they will have to plough through before they can actually do any useful work.

The implication of all of this is that if you leave your desk for more than half an hour and don't come back to at least a thousand emails then you are clearly a corporate nobody.

People that subscribe to this way of thinking are the same people that insist on checking their work email on their phone while down the pub (because that email from the office manager warning about a loose seat in the third floor gents just couldn't wait until the next day).

All this macho inbox-measuring is nonsense of course, put about by insecure paper-shufflers who wouldn't have lasted two minutes against a woolly mammoth anyway.

And it seems you agree (about email chest-beating, not your boss's chances against a big, hairy prehistoric elephant).

Seven out of 10 workers complain they are being sent irrelevant emails or being copied in on emails of no interest. The other three out of 10 were too busy bragging about their bloated inboxes to answer the survey, presumably.

The research, conducted on behalf of Salesforce.com, also recorded that one in three workers said they now suffer from information overload at work (although curiously, these workers fighting a losing battle against email have decided to open themselves up to a new communications deluge: nearly half of workers are also using social media at work every day).

Being CC'd (or even worse BCC'd, which is just sneaky in the Round-Up's opinion) on random emails is irritating of course, but would any of you really want to switch off email forever?

After all, to paraphrase Oscar Wilde, the only thing worse than being emailed is not being emailed at all.

A little while ago silicon.com ran a hugely popular photo gallery of Google doodles through the ages, (the doodles being the images that brighten up the Google homepage on a regular basis).

But who are the people that create them?

Glad you asked: this week we have another story which goes behind the scenes with the team that create the doodles, and you can check it out here. The Round-Up's favourite is the two dogs in spacesuits. Intrigued? You're really going to have to check it out now...

Back to the subject of social media - there's a column on silicon.com this week that talks about how social media is overtaking email use in the office, just as 10 years ago email ousted snail mail and faxes (remember them?).

Of course, don't forget that you can follow silicon.com via our new Facebook page, our LinkedIn group and our Twitter feed too.

And this week comes more evidence of how entrenched social media is becoming in our everyday lives. Two-thirds of Brits now make contact with friends and family via social networking sites more often than via face-to-face contact.

For example, almost one in five admit to only seeing their parents in person twice per month - but nearly a third communicate with their parents via social networking sites on a weekly basis. Staying in contact via social media or using it to keep people at a safe distance? The Round-Up will leave it to you to decide.

Either way, according to the research by myvouchercodes.co.uk, half of the people surveyed now arrange their social gatherings via Facebook - compared to one in eight who still use phones, while four out of 10 said they check their Facebook or Twitter more so than their email inbox.

One in four only wish their friends a happy birthday via Facebook, thus saving a packet on stamps, cards and presents (although that would definitely see them crossed off the Round-Up's birthday party list). Four in 10 admitted they would forget special occasions if they weren't reminded by the notifications on Facebook. Social media - the latest form of information overload, or the only way you're ever going to remember great aunt Agnes's birthday?

Also on silicon.com this week: the incredible shrinking IT department.

No, it's not some kind of 'Land of the Giants' drama where a miniaturised helpdesk team have to make it out of the office alive while dodging gigantic, angry users (although the Round-Up would pay good money to see that movie).

Instead, this is the silicon.com CIO Jury's prediction for what is going to happen to the IT department over the next five years - it's going to get smaller. And what's to blame? Try cloud computing and offshoring for starters. Read the story to find out more.

And finally - keep up to date with the latest from silicon.com wherever you are, with the free silicon.com iPhone reader app. Sounds good? Want to know more? Check out the photo gallery showing off all the marvellous things it can do. And then download it.

And as ever, check out the excellent links below.

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