It takes time: get the message?

22:48, Sep 27 2012

We've had some email issues this week that have put the frustration levels through the roof a couple of times.

It still surprises me how much we have come to rely so much on something that has been around for only 15 or 20 years.

Our IT people decided a while back that everyone in the Fairfax group needs to be "transitioned" or "migrated" (we say changed) to a different email program for a list of reasons that few of us really understand. That's nearly 3000 users to change.

The first step was for one person in our Blenheim office to be trained as the "champion", or guru user. Next step was to appoint "guides" within our departments who could be "go-to" people when the rest of us had helpless questions. I appointed six of them for editorial to make sure we had it covered.

They were trained last week and their system was swapped (or migrated or transitioned or whatever you want to call it) at the weekend and they've been working with it all week. The idea is that by the time of the rest of us change, they will be experts, all the bugs will be ironed out and it will be a doddle.

There have been a few issues. We lost a whole bunch of emails at one stage, so if you've emailed us and had no response, I apologise and suggest you try again.


But our "guides" are smiling more each day, which is a sign of progress.

It's not that straightforward, though, because not everything is changing at once. For example, our group emails - where several people can clear messages sent to one address such as our newsroom email of - won't be changed for several weeks, so some of us will have to have two email systems running at once.

All our contacts, all our archive files (and these days of so-called paperless offices, so much is stored in our emails) and our online diaries or calendars will also change at some stage.

I'm not in the mix yet, and hope to be the last to change. So much to learn.

But we shouldn't grumble because email has been such a major advance for this industry. Looking back, I really can't see how we got a daily paper out without it. We phoned more and we had more face-to-face meetings, but in retrospect it wasn't terribly efficient.

The danger these days is that we become dominated by our emails. We constantly check them. As I write this, little messages pop up on my screen as an alert that a new message has arrived and it's an effort to ignore it.

Emails also go to our cellphones so we can work out of the office.

Some people have the ability to ignore them, or check them only once a day. I am envious of them.

A bunch of researchers at Glasgow University announced this week that they have matched patterns of emailing behaviour to different species of birds. Not sure why the bird connection, but you're sure to identify yourself in one or two of the groups. I know where I fit, and I'm not entirely happy. Something to work on.

Here's the list:

Compulsive woodpecker: can't resist reading email at any hour.

Hibernating poorwill: reads email only occasionally so senders can never rely on them.

Incommunicado ostrich: reads emails but never replies. Often seen with hibernating poorwill.

Caterwauling peacock: broadcasts emails to everyone. Claims people “need to know” when it's just grandstanding.

Back-covering emu: sends emails to prove later that the information was passed on.

Echoing mynah: acknowledges all emails with something like: “thanks”, then “my pleasure”, then “thanks again”.

Boorish parrot: sends abusive or inappropriate emails and can't understand why others get upset.

Night owl: the midnight emailer who can't understand that others want some time out.

Pesky crow: leans on others by email, sends multiple versions of the same thing, or sends multiple emails about the same topic.

Buck-passing cuckoo: sends emails to others asking them to do something they should do themselves, leaves quickly and the recipient is left carrying the baby.

Camouflaging woodcock: uses blind copy (BCC) to send copies of emails to other people without the main recipient knowing. Unlike the back-covering emu, this bird is seldom seen in all its glory.

Echolalia mockingbird: a serial forwarder, sending chain emails, online petitions and anything else that takes its fancy. Most of these emails have a subject line starting with "FW". Easily ignored, but does not know why.

Hoarding magpie: has hundreds of emails in the inbox but can never find the one they need.

Lightning-response hummingbird: responds immediately to email, and expects an immediate response. Like right now.

Be honest - what bird(s) are you?

The Marlborough Express