zaterdag, januari 17, 2009

You've Got Mail. Almost.

I have been arguing already a few times before why I think now is exactly the right time for a more careful, considerate approach to information technology. There are many arguments, many pros and cons, lots of items to write on this blog. But every now and then, you bump into a devastating demonstration that renders all discussion obsolete. Fed up with e-mail overflow? Blaming e-mail for managing a 1000 issues in that same, shallow way? Using a tone in your e-mails that you would never use when talking person-to-person? Responding a bit too quickly to e-mails without taking the right time to formulate your answers?
Your worries are over.

Now there is Real Snail Mail, the worlds first webmail service using live snails. The good people at boredomresearch, Bournemouth University, take care of a well-trained staff of 8 snails that each carry a 20mm RFID tag on their shell. Incoming messages are collected at the dispatch centre at one end of their closure. Once a message is loaded on the chip, it will be carried around by the assigned snail until it happens to reach the drop off point. Here the message is collected and forwarded to its final destination. The fastest average delivery time is currently achieved by Francis, a gorgeous brunette snail that only needs 2.22 days to bring the message across. This is in sharp contrast to the pathetic 10.43 days of her macho colleague Sean (codename ‘Agent 007’, guess his glory days are a bit over indeed).

As I said, further discussion is useless. Just think about Real Snail Mail the next time you start up your e-mail program, and it may already help you to approach things just a little bit differently. Then again, you could consider to actually use this brilliant, very contemporary service (after all, it’s RFID, it’s cloud and it’s definitely green) in real life. Send yourself and your team members the project plan, IT strategy outline, specifications document or design through Real Snail Mail and take the time in between to contemplate your results. The results can only improve, because you have injected the right dose of ‘slow’ to take some distance and look into the matter from different perspectives.

I sure hope that the success won’t put too much pressure on those poor snails. Already, their bosses are thinking about scaling up. This will no doubt introduce the concept of industralised snail farms and before we know it management consultants will be applying Lean Six Sigma to eliminate even the last minute of waste in the tank. For now, champion snails like Agatha (agent 006) and Reginald (agent 012) couldn’t care less. One of them may be carrying my e-mail right now, but that freshly placed marigold looks so much more tasteful. Could be another hour of just bites, rather than bytes.

First published on Capgemini's CTO Blog and SlowPlanet

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