“e-mail bankruptcy”

Struggling to Evade the E-Mail Tsunami


.... start-up companies were mentioned favorably, like ClearContext (sorts Outlook inbox messages by imputed importance), Xobni (offers a full communications history within Outlook for every sender, as well as very fast searching), Boxbe (restricts incoming e-mail if the sender is not known), and RapidReader (displays e-mail messages, a single word at a time, for accelerated reading speeds that can reach up to 950 words a minute).

But none of these services really eliminates the problem of e-mail overload because none helps us prepare replies. And a recurring theme in many comments was that Mr. Arrington was blind to the simplest solution: a secretary.

This was the solution Thomas Edison used in pre-electronic times to handle a mismatch between 100,000-plus unsolicited letters and a single human addressee. Not all correspondents would receive a reply — a number were filed in what Edison called his “nut file.” But most did get a written letter from Edison’s office, prepared by men who were full-time secretaries. They became skilled in creating the impression that Edison had taken a personal interest in whatever topic had prompted the correspondent to write.

Comment: Re “e-mail bankruptcy”: We call it "email jail" at work.

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