How to… not mess with e-mails

November 9, 2007

 

1) Always remember that…

No communication tool is neutral. As Mc Luhan said, “the medium is the message”, suggesting that meaning not only rely on the “content”, but also in what conveys it – it is not only a matters of words, but also of non-verbal settings.

We all have heard for example that in an oral presentation, what you actually says only accounts for 3% of the final impression you make. Which is why conversations on MSN can lead to misunderstandings (he was only joking but i thought it was serious and got upset, etc…). And same for email.

Indeed, although emails are now part of the “infra-ordinary” (that is, something so omnipresent in our daily life that we don’t really pay attention anymore), very few really master the “art” of sending it. It can ruin carreers or relationships – like these chinese managers whose abusive e-mails to their secretary have been sent in copy to the whole company.

 

 

2) Read…

David Shipley and Will Schwalbe, who recently released an “essential guide to Email for Office and Homeand give two explanations to the misuse of e-mails.

First, they consider that people are “not themselves”, that emails “tend to encourage the less angelic part of ourselves” cause you don’t really take time to think of what you’re writting – reproches, cold orders, moody reactions are sent before you know it.

Second idea is that there is nothing like a “universal neutral tone”: email is a very “cold” medium (McLuhan again: it is a medium where the recipient have to make up a great part of the information and context themselves, unlike a movie or face to face). So if you don’t intentionnally make it nice, it won’t be neutral, it may hurt the reader feelings.

3) Really try…

To limit wrong interpretations, the authors advise to overplay enthousiasm, putting exclamation marks, smileys, jokes, compliment or any signs of interest and niceness. Don’t just ask straightly for something. Do be polite, and even ask a more personal (but not too much) question. And don’t assume that because you know the person very well, they will understand that you just didn’t have time to be nice. Even if the person knows you didn’t mean to be rude, they could be unconsciously hurt or upset. The first principle to me would be caution: never take for granted that people will understand. They’re not in your head, they have their own fears, prejudices, weaknesses. So second principle would be empathy. Before ever sending an email, imagine you’re receiving it: how do you feel? Make the according changes.

 

It’s all new etiquette we got to learn – as well as on IM or social networks. New tools, new skills… but same human beings!

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How to… love netvibes

October 31, 2007

I tried to make a video on how I use Netvibes; it’s a first try (need to get used to the softwares for video screenshots and making, which are also mentionned in there: AllCapture and Windows movie maker)

Anyway the video is actually borring, but what is to keep in mind is that NETVIBES is a great great tool to put yourself together when you’re starting to be all over the web.

I used to use it just for RSS feeds, which is its first purpose. Then I realize i could also check my emails from my hotmail+yahoo+3 gmails accounts without having to login to each.

I also created thumbs for each of the stuff im working on, and have a page for each projects with the associated email box, to-do-list, bookmarks for associated wikis, google and ma.gnolia groups, and so on…

It thus became a platform for all my online presence. It’s now my home page, and I have all these great browsers (for words, images, videos, blogs… just select your favorites engines) also on same page.

Just at the point i was scattered around and spanning out, Netvibes not only re-mixed my web, but made it a clear place. It just changed my life.

Last but not least: they’re french!

What is Google Doc good for?

October 31, 2007

Well, for anything you’re working on in group!

It can just for others people to check out the spelling or a few details on a doc you made, and correct it directly.

But it can as well be good for colleagues to each build up entire pages that others can see, in order to know what’s going on and be more consistent in the end. Or for a kind of “brainstorming” doc where you need different people to generate a maximum of ideas.

They’re 3 kinds of documents you can create, edit and share:

– document= classic text edition. Basic stuffs, spelling check and brainstorming.

– spreadsheet= table; i’m currently using it with a colleague to complete a list of books and articles regarding certain issues for http://www.nonfiction.fr.

– presentation= powerpoint! it sounds a brilliant idea as you’re genarally working as a team on a powerpoint. Problem is thtat editing is quite limited as compared to proper Office version. So good for a start, but the final version is bound to be made the old way… offline!

Google is not the only one to offer online collaborative applications (but definetly the best to me). Check a few others with this special mini-guide of Web Presentations And Online Slideshow Creation Tools from the excellent site 

so what… are we talking about?

October 23, 2007

This blog only exists thanks to Bob, who’s kindly creating a space for us to get into “e-culture & communication”. So I guess that’s kind of what we might talk about here… So the first question one might ask himself is surely: but what is “e-culture”? Well, i’m sure Bob’s gonna answer that, but here are a basic clues i found with Google (struggling a bit by the way, the notion is dutch isn’t it?)

 

 

From http://eculturefactory.de/download/schwarz.pdf

“e-Culture?… Only five years ago nobody had heard of the word ‘e-culture’ – at least not in Holland, where I come from. Yes, there was much talk about ICT, information and communications technology and ist implications for economy and society. And when it came to arts and culture, government ministers spoke of “ICT and culture” as a new policy issue, focusing on the use of ict in the arts and cultural sector.

But today, e-culture appears an established phrase. With a wink towards such words as ‘ecommerce’ and ‘e-learning’, the idea of ‘e-culture’ signalled a new period, a new phase, where developments in arts and culture are given their place in the digital domain. Above all, the idea of ‘e-culture’ gave voice to the observation that since the mid-1990s something significantly new and different had been happening. Strange-looking as this novel word ‘e-culture’ appeared at first, I do think it made explicit that the rise of information society and digital media, did not only bring new tools and technologies, but that a new context was emerging for arts and culture.”

 

From http://www.virtueelplatform.nl/article-324-en.html

“Initially, use of the term e-culture was largely a rhetorical device to shift the ground in the established Dutch policy discourse. But today, some four years after it was first launched, ‘e-culture’ has become something of an established phrase in cultural policy circles, at least in the Netherlands. More importantly, ‘e-culture policy’ is beginning to establish the contours for strategies that open up new opportunities for the arts and the cultural sector in a world that is increasingly defined by media technologies and media contexts.”

 

From http://www.scp.nl/english/publications/summaries/9037700926.html

“The term eculture refers to the diffusion of new technology, its application for various purposes (especially information and communication) and shifts in related attitudes, values and norms.The advent of an eculture is described here in terms of a broad definition of culture. This concerns the culture of a society with both idealmaterial characteristics. On the ideal side are symbol systems such as the language and information transferred to new generations by these symbol systems. This information is not neutral but has a normative charge. It embraces a system of attitudes concerning the kind of world in which we live, a system of general moral values arising from or justified by those attitudes and a system of norms that applies the general values to concrete situations and describes how the members of a group should act in various circumstances (Lenski and Lenski 1987: 40). Technology (technological knowledge) is part of the cultural information and it too is normatively charged. While technology may be classified on the ideal side, the outputs of that technology (appliances) may be ranged among the material cultural products.

 

From http://www.cultuur.nl/files/pdf/advies/E-cultuur_engels.pdf.

“Eculture is not just ‘something to do with computers.’ The cultural implications of digitalisation are far greater than the mere instrumental exploitation of technical opportunities. Eculture is all about a new, digital dimension; a new and – until recently – undreamt-of medium with which existing culture must seek to interact and in which new culture is being generated. But eculture is also more than just a new medium. Digital technologies and the Internet are opening the door to new forms of expression, changing the roles played by cultural institutions, and placing the audience and user increasingly centre stage.”

 

Bonjour tout le monde !

October 23, 2007

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