Europe South Asia Asia Pacific Americas Middle East Africa BBC Homepage World Service Education

Front Page



UK Politics







Talking Point

In Depth

On Air

Low Graphics

Thursday, June 3, 1999 Published at 14:18 GMT 15:18 UK


Your email experiences

Hell? I get emails from all over the world and all over my company, from friends, colleagues, potential customers and potential vendors. I can spell and grammar check my communication before I send it. I can add pictures and sounds, even send programs for people to use. I can choose when and whether to read/answer my emails; I can't do this with a phone call or face-to-face conversation. And unlike faxes there is no waste paper unless I want there to be. Get used to it! You moaners are the luddites who at first hated TV and the telephone.
Joe Hayhurst, UK

The utility value of e-mail came when I was able to announce my forthcoming marriage to relatives in several countries more or less in real time and extremely cost-effectively. I simply couldn't have done that with the telephone, and snail mail would have taken many number of days to reach all the intendees.
G Wedande, UK

My company just set up an email address where applicants can send their resumes. There were 240 messages the first time I checked, and at least 25% of the attachments contained viruses. Nice first impression!
Bill Shamam, USA

I had so far no problems with e-mails, however I use the filtering to select the important and possibly urgent mails.
Tibor Németh, Hungary

Email is my preferred way of communicating. It's so much easier to keep in touch with friends and family. AND in business it allows my to track my correspondence without all the copies of paper having to be made and stored. As graphics is my job, sending some files can be an interesting experience, but usually no problem. World-wide communication with the touch of a button (when the equipment is functioning correctly...). How can this be a bad thing. I receive 50-100 emails a day and without prioritizing it would be HELL. I receive quite a few newsletters daily to stay abreast of the developments in my field, but I only have time to read them occasionally. I don't have voice mail on my current work phone, but do at home. I've learned to assign specific times to deal with both voice and email that way I can concentrate on my task at-hand (i.e., the job I was hired to do) versus answering the phone constantly. As with anything new, each new technology should be allowed some ramp-up time as one becomes familiar with and learns use it to his/her advantage. No mobile phone --yet -- thank goodness, but I can feel it coming.
Jennifer, USA

On a personal level, e-mail is a quick and easy way to keep in touch with friends overseas - it is the only technology which instantly overcomes the time zone barrier. On a professional level, I find it is the best way to send documents which need to have the approval of multiple parties who are located in different offices. Now I can get a finished document together in 2 days rather than 2 weeks. It saves paper, mailing costs, and allows other parties to make changes to the documents without having to ship everything back to me first.
Joanna Taylor, USA

The sad reality is that technology has so horribly outstripped education that it has now become nothing more that the proverbial shotgun in the hands of a two-year-old. It saddens me that technology has afforded such wonderfully powerful tools that really can contribute to the betterment of our lives but are rendered useless in the hands of the ill trained or educated. As a last note I would like to ask why this has become an issue when one only needs to look to our roadways to realize that in nearly a century people have still not figured out how to drive.
Grant Macdonald, Canada

Many people seem to hide behind emails and voicemails rather than talking/'phoning direct. Email's become a personal defence barrier - similar to voicemail which helps people who can't cope fend off or ignore disruptive contact.
Tony Rodda, UK

I love email - it means I can ignore my boss's rantings remotely and if they get too much, they end up in the recycle bin!
Dave Hay, UK

Email is pretty good actually - junk faxes are the real problem, as they waste so much paper.
David, UK

Email although is causing hindrance to your work makes the communication between people much more easier and very fast. That fact nobody can deny or ignore.
Jayaraj, India

The ultimate experience is sending out a message announcing the birth of my son last year. I am STILL receiving replies internally to a message I sent out some six months ago!
Joe Knappett, UK

Aside from the mass of Junk mail that anyone who's been online for more than a few months can not avoid...
Colleagues who unthinkingly send large program files (e.g. ending in .exe or com) or large documents containing unnecessary logos and graphics across the net. Such files can bring a mail-server to a complete stand-still and can tie up the phonelines of small companies for an unnecessarily long time.
Howie Watkins, UK

Yes, we get a lot of mail and yes, it can take time to go through it. However, it has increased the speed and throughput of our work capability considerably. We can now produce a report in ten minutes and get it to the other side of the World; instantly. Email is quick and has an audit trail; a conversation never has.
Rob Moore, UK

There are many days when I have come into work at 7:30, responded to my emails, and then went to lunch at 11:30. Upon returning, I find my mailbox is full again. On days like that, I don't actually get any work done until 2 or 3pm.
Jeff Rhines, USA

I do find email useful but hate it when people sitting near to me send emails rather than speaking to me direct. I also find it quite difficult to keep changing salutations so that I don't keep using "Hi Folks" or whatever in an effort to make the email pleasant. It's a lot easier to sound friendly if you speak to someone.
June Ainslie, UK

We're entering the Communication Age. We're all going to have to learn to cope with these new forms of communications sooner or later. Those who don't just cope with it, but actually learn to exploit it are going to be the achievers of this Age.
Roger Kennealy, USA

In my globally responsible job I find email a magnificent tool to send files, pictures and for general communication. But I have also come across people who hide behind it and never use any other form of communication, this is when the tool has detrimental effects. I even have email to and from my mobile phone; it has become an integral part of my life.
Paul Marks, UK

Email is probably the most effective tool to use in a country where the traditional telecommunication systems are flakey. No email is like having no arms.
Mark Snell, Zimbabwe

Get worried now about going on holiday - you can expect to spend a day sifting about 250 emails after a 2 week holiday!
Paul, UK

Email has given people have the power to send the same information to a vast number of people with the click of an icon, even if the information is of no use to them. There is no effort involved, good yes, but this in turn means that people also use it in a negative way, for example: The More people who receive it, the more people to blame if there's a problem! I can say "Well I emailed it to you as well!" This has happened to me.
Chris Lees, UK & USA

I have been using email for over 5 years now. As more and more people have started using e-mail in my organisation (which is located across 15 countries), life has become really complex because :

1. Most of the mail that I get and need to respond to are from people who are no more than a floor away. Where we earlier talked to each other, nowadays we send mail. This is creating serious communication hassles in any department.
2. Mail keeps coming in from all over the world. This is fine, except that I spend time responding to the US office (which is 9 1/2 hours behind us) and then find that I have to start responding to the Indian offices as well as the UK office. Life is a series of e-mails and woe betide you if you get your time zones wrong.
3. One problem that I am finding is the tone of messages. Unlike the old-fashioned letter, messages are curt, with no salutation, no effort to communicate a point properly and usually extremely terse. A lot of time is spent in understanding what the writer wants.
G Krishnamurthy, India

Your article is absolutely right. Although I do not use these techniques too frequently, in our country who cannot live without mobile phones and they use them on buses, at the theatre, while eating. So they cannot have private life. I have also students who spend most of their time sending e-mails all around the world and forget about learning...
Balla Árpád, Hungary

Any tool in the hands of someone who is inexperienced means that the tool is a hinder rather than help. One could make the same argument for telephone when they first appeared, but imagine the business today without a telephone.
Benjamin Kopic, UK

Gone are the days when a quick chat would suffice, I now get a constant stream of emails from the person or people in the same office. People don't have the time so they send the info and get on with the other three hundred things they have to do before days end. RUSH RUSH RUSH !!!!!
Will Lawless, UK

Email is amazing, I can go to a meeting and then straight away prepare minutes with actions and deadlines and then send them to everybody who attended. I can even check to see if they read my email. I can then save these read acknowledgements as prove that they received their actions, which may prove useful at the next meeting. Cuts down on paper and misunderstandings.
Gary Blake, UK

I don't believe the statistics, I certainly don't receive 171 messages a day and neither do my co-workers.
Adam Barsby, UK

The only hell regarding modern technology is having to use Microsoft's lousy software!
Martin Nike, UK

Email makes my job far easier. There is nothing wrong with emailing people in your own department. Email's asynchronous nature means that I can communicate with my boss in the adjacent office even when he's not there (which is most of the time).
Richard Carter, UK

This report is a load of rubbish. People love dealing with emails.
Rupert St John Webster, UK

Too much email - mostly company announcements. Need to prioritise the stuff. Causes work overload and stress.
KW, Singapore

Email has become the enemy of personal communication. People working in the office next door now send email instead of actually talking to you. Yet another breakdown in communications aided by technology.
Rod Houghton, Australia

Face it, it's more efficient using fax. People are so inundated with email that it's more a nuisance than not. The important ones have to be filtered out by hand. What a waste.
Pete Seerden, USA

After being on company email for around five years and Internet e-mail for three, I now could not manage to conduct my business efficiently without email. The unequalled ability of e-mail to move information around the globe is essential to today's 24-hour business world.
For those who want to complain that voice mail and email is too much, tough! Learn to use them to your advantage or accept being their slave. But remember the business world is one of survival of the fittest and only those who use EVERY tool at their disposal will thrive. Just as in the days of the tea clippers when the fastest ships got the highest prices and the slower ships went to the scrap heap; the people today who use information the most effectively will reap the rewards.
Keith Stilling, USA

I can understand the problems that email brings, with the constant interruptions from friends, jokes and general junk mail... but I do feel that as a communication tool it also helps save time that would otherwise be spent in pointless meetings or telephone negotiation. In many ways email is a godsend. We now have a black and white record of what was said that can be acted upon.
Kenny Brunton, UK

Tell us your experience of email hell:


Your E-mail Address:



Advanced options | Search tips

Back to top | BBC News Home | BBC Homepage | ©

Sci/Tech Contents

Relevant Stories

01 Jun 99 | Sci/Tech
New technology makes work harder

In this section

World's smallest transistor

Scientists join forces to study Arctic ozone

Mathematicians crack big puzzle

From Business
The growing threat of internet fraud

Who watches the pilots?

From Health
Cold 'cure' comes one step closer