Digital Overload and the Inbox

The Globe and Mail ran a series on digital overload. Erin Anderssen writes that our addiction to email, web browsing, social media is adding stress and distraction. It very likely is affecting health.

Digital overload: How we are seduced by distraction, (March 29)

“We have been seduced by distraction,” says psychologist Daniel Goleman, the author of Focus: the Hidden Driver of Excellence. “We are being pulled away from paying attention to the things that enrich our lives.”

E-mail inbox stressing you out? Here’s what you can do about it Add to … (March 30)

Email is not dying; it’s predicted to increase from 191 billion in 2014 to 206 billion by 2017. There can be real stress in dealing with email – not to mention interruption.  Article has suggestions for reducing email stress. I like the idea of deleting old emails and starting again.

E-mail is not just a work hassle, but a health hazard. New research suggests the stress of dealing with over-stuffed inboxes shortens our breath, speeds up our hearts and spikes our blood pressure – often without us noticing.

Webmail privacy (or lack of)

Webmail – Hotmail, Yahoo Mail, GMail, and any other web-based email system – isn’t going to be fully private. They all have issues. Yahoo Mail had a security breach. Microsoft snooped through Hotmail. Google did give information to the US Government, but has added more privacy protection – but, I doubt, not so much that it will stop generating ads that relate to your email conversations.

Microsoft admits it snooped on Hotmail to track company leak, The Toronto Star (Mar 21) “Microsoft has taken a defiant stand against intrusions of customer privacy and has skewered Google for going through customer emails.”


Yahoo customer e-mails hacked in latest security breach
, E&T, (Jan 31) – usernames and passwords stolen.

Google tightens HTTPS protections in Gmail in light of government snooping, ComputerWorld (Mar 20)

Email Hazards

It’s very easy to get tricked into opening malware through an official looking email. Chris Hoffman, writing for Make Use Of, tells us How to Spot a Dangerous EMail Attachment (Jan 20, 2014)

However, I would go further and advise not opening an email attachment unless you know the sender and are expecting the document or photo or file.

And be suspicious of all emails that appear to be from your bank, Apple, PayPal, or your telephone company – any company at all. Chances are that this is phishing. Carefully check the domain of all email addresses and links (right click to see this). You will likely see something odd in the name – country code of .ru, or some cooked up variant of the company name.

Of course GMail is not private

In case there was any doubt, Google has stated that “ ’a person has no legitimate expectation of privacy in information he voluntarily turns over to third parties.’”This came up in a data-mining class-action case against Google in which plaintiffs have argued that the scanning Google does is illegal, and Google says users give implicit consent in order to receive the email services of filtering (not to mention free).

Google filing says Gmail users have no expectation of privacy, Steven Musil, CNet (Aug 13)

Which metaphor about email do you prefer?  Email is like sending to a post office – and opening your mail is a violation; or Google is like the personal assistant in the office with the right to scan the messages for you?

Email to get smarter

What if your email program could separate meetings, from personal, from project work without you having to do anything? Software that  marks up emails for message might be just the trick, and Google is on its way of doing exactly that.

What if Email Continues To Smarten Up, Semantic Web (Jul 1)

Gmail can leverage JSON-LD and schema.org  to markup information in emails to support interactions with recipients: an RSVP Action for events, a Review Action for restaurants, movies, products and services; a One-click Action for anything that can be performed with a single click; a Go-to Action for more complex interactions to be completed at a web site, as well as Flight interactive cards to confirm reservations and and trigger a Google Now boarding pass. )

Video Email – do we want it?

Video email – sounds like a non-sequitur – but it’s nearly upon us. Are You Ready For Video In Email? in Marketing Land (Jun 12) tells email marketers what to do to deliver video content. HTML5 is making this possible, but it still depends on whether your email client supports that. Mercifully, recommendations include “shorter is better”, and don’t use auto-play. Also – make the video “aspirational”!