Mimecast has just released some new and interesting research: - The Shape of Email Report.
The report itself is quite interesting, 500 IT Managers interviewed about their opinions on how employees in their organisation use email and the quality of their users inboxes - but what is probably more interesting is the fact that Mimecast has embarked on a rather daring adventure.
Dr Nathaniel Borenstein has written an interesting blog post about this report in which he says "The goal is simple to state and difficult to achieve: we want to deepen our collective understanding of how people use email."
This exercise looks to garner a far deeper understanding of how we use email and how email shapes our lives and intends to do so by not only by simply gathering numbers (though there looks to be a fair amount of that in store) but rather by gathering information, opinions, statistics and more. Taking that collected mass of data and waving it in front of a bunch of really smart people might just be what we need to shed some light on our collective use of the most important communications tool that humanity has ever had.
As Nathaniel says: "My friends in academia will, correctly, rail about sampling error, statistical signficance, and other methodological flaws with this approach. But we’re not claiming to be producing that kind of data. We are, however, hoping that combining enough imperfect studies will give us a hint of the truth."
Studies I have seen thus far have never shed any real light into our collective use of the most important communications tool to ever hit humanity.
I mean let's face it, the telephone (and indeed the telegraph) were massively important and were forerunners to email but it is email that truly made the world a small "global village". Email truly cemented the ability to communicate with people in different countries and time zones without having to go through an arduous trip to the post office, fax just wasn't a widespread "home" technology. Ideas could be bandied about and families could communicate with no additional expense. This has significantly shaped how we communicate.
For me, thinking back 20 years ago, the best I could do was leave a voice mail and hope someone would call me back while the thought was relevant. Now I am perfectly capable of holding long asynchronous conversations that span days and sometimes even months. My personal ability to "park" thoughts and pick them up later has developed significantly.
Has email done this to me?
It will be interesting to see what this form of "open research" can expose over time.