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Can you eliminate the need for email?

With some careful application of social media tools, could you actually eliminate the need for email?

Luis Suarez, who works for IBM, ditched email. He still has an email account, but since 2008 he’s tried to wean himself off email.

Suarez documents the decreasing amounts of email he receives with blog posts tagged “A World Without Email“. When he started, Suarez received more than 30 emails per day; by 2011 he received 16 emails per week. (I always imagine the phrase being read with the deep voice of movie trailer narrators, “In a world without email, one man stands alone…”)

Headlines highlight Suarez’s lack of email as an oddity. In 2012, Wired ran a story titled “IBM Gives Birth to Amazing E-mail-less Man“. The idea that a tech professional could do actual work without email boggles! Bah. Nearly impossible!

Headlines about Suarez should read “Man Chooses to Work in Public”. Suarez replaced email with a mix of internal and external social networking tools. He posts to his WordPress-powered blog at elsua.net several times a month. He uses Twitter and Tumblr to share what he’s doing. He even uses Google+ now and then.

Suarez’s choice to share his work came as a result of thinking and practice. He worked for years in the field of Knowledge Management. And he’s highly proficient at learning new tools and ways of working: he started blogging back in 2005.

So, can you eliminate email? Yes, with the careful use of social media and the willingness to “work in public”, it can be done. What is the value? Knowledge is shared. Work is collaborative.

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