Category Archives: Email

Calling all Numismatics!

This one has a S, but my grandad wants D.

This one has a S, but my grandfather wants D for Denver.

My grandfather, an early adopter of the cell phone and of the fax machine, cut off his new adoptions at the computer and the internet.  He did try for a period, but got too confused by “sloppy disks” and “flap tops” as he called them.

But, this doesn’t stop him leveraging the networking benefits from computers. He just uses my dad to distribute information about basketball bracket standings, old photos, and, most recently, his coin collecting needs:

Hi all; Granddad is looking for quarters from 2003 through 2008 with a “D” mint mark. (Not a P). These “D” mint marks indicate they were made in Denver. He will pay you 50 cents for any you can find.

Clearly I can’t help but pass along the message, too, because we’ve got to give this 84-year-old credit for understanding the power of online sharing.

Let me know if you find any of the quarters he is seeking—you’ll make an old man’s day by taking the time to look. (I think he needs 20 or so…) And the 200% ROI isn’t bad either.


1 Comment

Filed under Email, Just HAD to Share (Random)

Green Confessions, hosted by Zipcar

zipcarCheck out this great email from Zipcar yesterday. It looks like they (and a few partners) are attemping to foster real-world comraderie among their location-fragmented, island hopping Zipsters—all while shining a spotlight on our lovely planet. There is nothing like free booze to lubricate the conversation.

(My confession is that I took a cab to work today because I was running late. That didn’t save money or the earth! What’s yours?)

Happy Earth Day! (And check out Verdantic.)

Hi Christine,

Ever leave your lights on when you leave the room? Forget to recycle? We understand that nobody is perfect, and that’s why we’re inviting you to confess your eco-sins at Zipcar New York’s first-ever Green Confessions party.

We’ll be at BLVD at 199 Bowery (at Spring St.) tomorrow (Earth Day!) from 6-9pm collecting your green confessions. Be sure to rev up your Twitter accounts and activate your mobile device (install TwitterFon for iPhones or TwitterBerry for Blackberrys) so you can participate in our live Twitter feed of confessions. Flash your Zipcard at the door for plenty of snacks and libations.

And as an added bonus, if you bring a friend to sign up for Zipcar, you’ll both get $75 in driving credit—not a bad way to repent.

See you tomorrow,
The team at Zipcar New York


Filed under Digital/Social Networks, Email, Fostering Sharing, Just HAD to Share (Random)

UCSD: Accountability for oversights?


A while back I discussed the ever-annoying “reply all” emails that lazy individuals e-vomit into inboxes. In those cases the senders are aware of their messages, albeit possibly only semi-consciously.

So what about accidental emails like the one I sent in college to a non-responsive interviewee in which I was complaining about said interviewee? It was meant for my instructor, and it got to her eventually, but not before I angered the unintended receiver and made him think twice about speaking to my class ever again. Shit. 

Some of goof-ups are harmless, sure. And sometimes flub ups simplyteach us the hard way to be more careful.

But some of these mistaken messages could be harmful. Take the congratulatory email the University of California – San Diego sent to 28,000 rejected students (in addition to 18,000 accepted students) last month. Ouch! While apparently the admissions staff “acknowledged the pain” they caused and spent time replying to every inquiry,  I have to wonder: If they aren’t sued for this, when will the next similar situation occur wherein the faulty sender is?

Leave a comment

Filed under Email

And it was all Yellow

This is difficult to read, isn’t it?

I know it is. And I know better than to send an e-blast to 10,000 people in which I used it only on underlined links. But earlier last month I got catch up in the excitement of spring, in the beauty of coloring in a pretty design.

So what happened? I was pleasantly surprised to hear back from constituents writing nice, simple emails with phrases like “yellow print is illegible.” And I was happy to take the time to listen. I wrote each back, thanking them for their note and promising not to use yellow again. No biggie…I was just glad for their input.

Also, recently, I took the time to write a huge company to simply ask for discount on an order. (They had screwed up a previous one.) It worked…I got 10% off, no questions asked.

These instances just go to show what emails are sent and read by people—no matter the size of the organization. And, sometimes, if we take time to share our preferences with companies, then that is all it takes to get what we want.


Filed under Case Studies, Defining Sharing, Email

Taking it one step further…

A while back, I praised the Nielsen Company for disabling the “Reply All” functionality in Outlook. Now the company may take an even bigger step in controlling sharing. In an email sent to the BASES division from a VP of the company today, it appears they are allowing employees to vote on several forward-thinking cost-cutting measures. Here is one idea:

Remove the “Send” button from Outlook. How many times have you come back from vacation and had 1,452 emails waiting for you, including 323 reminders that your inbox is over its size limit? Well, help is just around the corner if you vote for this proposal.  We have noticed that the “Send” functionality in Outlook results in a great deal of in-box clutter. By removing it, we will dramatically free up associates’ time and untold server space. In-person communication is often more effective than e-mail anyhow, since it gives you a chance to “read” your co-workers’ faces and look for certain “tells” or even facial tics. For long-distance communication, phone calls will continue to be a viable option, as are smoke signals (where permissible by local law).

Other options suggest that the next operating system could be based on the “sturdy and time-tested Excel platform” and that April Fool’s Day emails could be sub-contracted in future fiscal years.

1 Comment

Filed under Email, Just HAD to Share (Random)

Kudos to Erdős

roomatesillustration1My friend Denise recently conquered the NYC roommate search labyrinth. To the right is a diagram of how she won in this oft-frustrating game.  I highlight this successful scenario tonight:

  1. because taking advantage of an Erdős number is way more hip that taking advantage of CraigsList nowadays. 
  2. because I’m happy for her. (Doesn’t it just feel safer to sleep down the hall from a friend of a friend of a…?)
  3. because it’s a relief to know that a broadcast email that made its way to the inbox of stranger to the original sender can do good in this world.

1 Comment

Filed under Case Studies, Digital/Social Networks, Email

Too much of a good thing

Oh the “Reply All” function. We all know how it feels to be bombarded with emails from perfectly kind strangers, be they friends of friends of our dad’s, overzealous rec league volleyball teammates, college buddies, or, possibly worst of all, work cohorts.

Everyone hates it, yet it still happens. Why ?  As with many perplexing questions, I believe it depends on the person. Here are a few culprits:

  • Lazy folks: “I don’t want to bother so I’ll do this to be safe…”
  • Careless individuals: “It’s an email. If they don’t like it they can delete.”
  • Clueless ones: “Great forward Fran..!!!  I liked your shirt yesterday…etc.”
  • Self-important peeps: “My time’s to valuable to have to say this twice.”
  • It’s too late people:  “17 emails already…what’s one more?”
  • Enough!! people: “A small request: Please let’s not hit reply all any more.”

These are cases of people blurting messages without taking a brief moment to think about audience. They represent a step backward to days of one-way, mass messages. These instances are not sharing, but yelling, even if they aren’t typed IN ALL CAPS.

Together we can stop the madness. One company has taken a step in doing so.

Nielsen Logo


In December, the Nielsen Executive Council (NEC) held an Act Now! event to review suggestions from across the business that would eliminate bureaucracy and inefficiency. Beginning Thursday, January 29, we will implement one of the approved recommendations: removing the “Reply to All” functionality from Microsoft Outlook.

We have noticed that the “Reply to All” functionality results in unnecessary inbox clutter. Beginning Thursday we will eliminate this function, allowing you to reply only to the sender. Responders who want to copy all can do so by selecting the names or using a distribution list.

Eliminating the “Reply to All” function will:

  • Require us to copy only those who need to be involved in an e-mail conversation
  • Reduce non-essential messages in mailboxes, freeing up our time as well as server space

This is one of the many changes being implemented as a result of the NEC Act Now! initiative. If you have any suggestions on how we can continue to improve the way we work, please send your comments to Nielsen Communications.

Andrew Cawood
Chief Information Officer

In my opinion, brilliant!  Nielsen has not only listened to employees who are willing to join in open dialogue (regarding a company about which these individuals know better than anyone), but it has framed its decision perfectly.

Some disagree with the severity of this outcome; others have done the math to prove its value.

I’ll end this post by saying my friend at Nielsen is happy with the policy. And, he tells me something the lazy and clueless folks don’t know and don’t deserve to: “Reply All” still works at Nielsen. It just requires two thoughtful clicks via the menu bar. Seems only fair to sharers who care.


Filed under Case Studies, Email