Ross Mayfield has some great thoughts about the advantages that workspace software offers over E-mail. I love his reference to ‘occupational spam.’ Those of you who work in organizations know what this is. In it’s most deplorable form it’s a mass E-mail advertising free kittens or a used Winnebago. Less insidious, but also a time-waster, is the pointed E-mail from one person to another, accompanied by a ‘cc’ to a committee or two just to let the recipient know that the sender means business. Anyway, here is a snippet of Ross’ analysis:
Occupational Spam, email sent out of context characterized by CCs, is 30% of corporate email. You know this problem and are a part of it. You want to keep people informed and you want to be informed. The problem is email wasn’t designed and its best use is for one-to-one communication. Enter Workspaces, which in our latest case study dropped group email from 100 messages per day to practically zero. The efficiency for information flow gained is similar to moving network structure from point-to-point to a hubbed architecture. But beyond the network structure, greater transparency allows people to be informed when they have time for peripheral attention. Workspaces are designed for Many-to-Many interaction, where group communication should occur and with the right email integration it doesn’t demand up front change in behavior.
I have used SocialText, which is the workspace software that Ross’s company sells and I understand its advantage as a collaborative tool. I also agree with his statement that E-mail’s functionality is limited.