Re: E-mail and writing

Subject: Re: E-mail and writing
From: Diane Peters <dj -at- IBAPAH -dot- RAXCO -dot- COM>
Date: Fri, 17 Nov 1995 13:59:00 -0700

On Tue, 14 Nov 1995 Barbara Weiss <beweiss -at- UMICH -dot- EDU> wrote:

> I'm working on a project for a masters-level class in Computers and
> Writing and plan to expand it somewhere down the road for my
> thesis/project. My general question is: How has e-mail changed our
> attitudes toward writing?
Hmm..., I'm not sure, now that I'm responding, what my answer would be
to this. I don't think it has affected my *attitude* as per writing.

> Has e-mail changed your frequency or style of writing
I am much more apt to communicate via e-mail some concern or assertion
that, otherwise, I would put off.

> Has it helped to flatten or reshape hierarchies in the workplace?
Since, at times, I have felt free to send e-mail to any member of the
company I work for, e-mail has flattened--if nothing else--hierarchies.
I lack a (healthy?) dose of fear or trepidation in stating my honest
opinions, which understandably sometimes gets me in hot water with the
powers that be. Fortunately, my employer values my work enough that a
quick follow-up *clarification* or apology--via e-mail, of course--can
smooth things over.

> Eliminated work/memos?
The easy access to e-mail liberated me in the work place. I don't know
how I got along without it. It allows me a medium to put questions,
informal proposals, complains, suggestions, reports, etc. before a
diverse group of people. Without e-mail, I would spend ridiculous
amounts of time running around trying to deliver either verbal or
written messages to various people. I'd never get any real work done.
I also use e-mail to do work. I have "trained" the engineers and
marketing people to communicate with me through e-mail to: give
assignments, make decisions, review written material, and transfer
"raw" information (stuff engineers write that I must, in turn,
translate for the user manuals). Just about anything. I report bugs
and anomalies that I find in the product (software) with e-mail also.

> Increased work/memos?
No. Though I produce far more communiques using e-mail than I would
if I had to use other communication media. Also, I am slightly
"telephobic" (I avoid using the phone if at all possible). I prefer
the safety of thinking before I speak, and e-mail gives me the perfect
platform: immediacy and convenience of a telephone with the safety of
writing. I feel I am much less likely to miscommunicate or to be
misconstrued; in short, I'm much better in writing. Though, in the
right circumstances, I can be quite dazzling in *live* performance--
just not as controlled.

> Aided, hampered, altered communication between employees?
Some of my response to the previous message apply here, too. I think
e-mail, for those who use it frequently, has only aided communication.
Those who feel there is no substitute for face-to-face meetings may
beg to differ. Some say that not seeing a person's expressions or
body language hampers communication, particularly for the receiver.
There are good arguments for both, but I don't think one should
entirely replace the other; I don't believe that will happen. Plus,
when I'm ticked off, I can write a scathing response and e-mail it
just to myself (and maybe a sympathetic few), wait a few days, then
re-read it and decide if I really want to send it. Usually not. That
method allows me to get something off my chest and avoid burning any
bridges in the meantime.

> Has it spilled over to effect your OTHER writing?
Yes, my reliance and preference for e-mail has affected my personal
correspondence. If only ALL my friends and family were *online*!
Then perhaps I wouldn't get so many "Forgot How To Write?" cards and
comments. I send e-mail to those who can send/receive e-mail and
rarely get around to those who cannot. Now that's what MCI should be
doing: working to provide friends&family e-mail circles! Yeah, I think
we've got something here....

diapet -at- axent -dot- com
dj -at- ibapah -dot- raxco -dot- com

The road to enlightenment is long and difficult...
so, bring snacks and a magazine.

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