Email: The Black Hole

Magnifying glass searching globe

I have a love/hate relationship with email.

I love it because it’s so easy to use but I hate it because all the insight that comes in and the wisdom I send out evaporates the next day when my attention is focused on that day’s email.

I know I can search my email but that’s not how I’m trained to use email and the search functions I have used are a bit clunky.

But even if this is my own personal problem for which I’m well aware others (Steve Rubel) have found a solution for themselves, I know this is a very real problem for small companies and organizations that don’t have a lot of resources to deal with it.

Consider how often a given employee will write a solution to a common problem encountered by many clients. Wouldn’t it be nice if we didn’t have to reinvent the wheel, but could search for the pre-written solution from a common knowledge database that we could copy, paste and send?

Or how about all the great insights members of a work team provide one another as they work together on a particular project? They do it through email and while that knowledge may be shared and retained within the minds of those people, it stays with them and leaves when they leave.

What if all the valuable knowledge and insight that is trapped in the folders of individual employees were available in one central place for anyone within the enterprise to use?

I’ve begun using as my personal solution to that problem. I have a private Posterous account and whenever I write something I think has lasting value, I BCC it to my Posterous account.

What’s really nice about Posterous is that it doesn’t require anyone to learn a new tool or really change the way they work; they just need to add another email address to their emails. Easy.

It seems to me Posterous or something like it is a perfect solution to the Great Suck of the black hole for email knowledge. It puts knowledge that would otherwise die to further use.

The drawback with using Posterous or some other similar service is that you put your data at risk by letting someone else control it. That’s a choice we always make, though, and we usually come down on the side of convenience.

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