1. Technology

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Using Intranet Email Effectively (Part 1)

Compared to other communication media such as the telephone, radio, and television, email remains a relatively new invention. The first email traveled across computer networks less than 30 years ago. Smileys and other emoticons began appearing in email just 20 years ago. And many of today's email users (estimated at over 100 million people worldwide) first came online with the advent of the World Wide Web in this decade.

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I sent my first email in 1985 and have been a regular email user ever since. Over the years, some of the details of sending and receiving mail have changed considerably. Today we have access to increasingly rich graphic interfaces that include appointment reminders and integrate calendering, contact management and news. I send and receive a much greater volume of email now than in the past, due in part to having more family and friends online. Unfortunately, I also receive a much greater volume of unsolicited and so-called "spam" messages. Here are just some of the unexpected titles I've received at About.com this month:

  • "PREMIUM CABLE TV ...No Extra Charge"
  • "Purchase a home with NO MONEY DOWN!"
  • "* Rock Hudson Limited-Edition Art *"
  • "ADV: Free Carribean Cruise / Vacation"
  • Despite a few superficial alterations, however, the underlying principles of email usage have seemingly changed little over time. Some people still don't like to use email. Some will selectively ignore messages you send. Others will inundate you with mail if you let them.

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    Exchanging email on the intranet should be considered very serious business. Will your coworkers judge you by the quality and tone of your writing online? Why did no one listen to your great idea when you proposed it in email? And what should you do when you get "flamed" (or worse, ignored) on a mailing list that includes your supervisor? Thes are just a few of the weighty questions to consider when working with email in an intranet community.

    With free email service readily available on the Web today, organizations may take for granted that their employees have the knowledge essential to using intranet email effectively. After all, the technology and mechanics of exchanging intranet mail do not differ much from those on the Internet generally. And probably your organization already offers training in basic use of the tools.

    In upcoming features we will explore in more depth the role of email on intranets today. Beyond initial deployment and technology training, I intend to show how your organization will derive benefit from a continuing focus on email as a productivity tool and essential piece of the business culture.

    Additional Information
    • Part 2 of this series looks at some common pitfalls of private email use.
    • About.com: Email offers broad coverage of Internet email topics. From About.com - image courtesy About.com
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