Use of email, Face to Face, Control Issues
From: Sharon Villines (
Date: Tue, 12 Jun 2001 10:36:01 -0600 (MDT)
>> One of the things I think is scary but important is the element of
>> illumination of issues. Email makes it easy to expose the hidden
>> grumblings and bring them up for community work. Not every
>> community wants to do this and you would be wise to talk about
>> if and how you want to air things.
> Face-to-face discussions were so obviously
> superior -- more warm, more polite, more direct, more inclusive, more ...
> something [snip]  One thing for sure, meeting discussions
> are more controllable.

Praise the lord and pass the potatoes!

We are currently going through another TOO MUCH EMAIL discussion.

I don't think people _consciously_ complain about email because they can't
control it, but I do think it frightens them and feels uncontrollable. They
say that it is email that causes the confusion and upset, as if it were
inherently a confusing medium. In person, you can read inflections and
facial expressions so face to face is inherently clearer -- and thus better.

Yes -- It may be sometimes be clearer but it is also more manipulative. The
heavier the inflection, the harder it is to speak in disagreement.

I like thinking about issues and responding when I feel moved to do so --
not on someone else's schedule  "This agenda item has 10 minutes." "You
didn't put that on the agenda so we can't discuss it no matter how important
you think it is." 

I dislike having to speak after one person's stump-speech which colors one's
own comments even when one's comments have nothing to do with the comments
that were made just before you. You just ended up on the queue together. I
find this very confusing! No dialogue -- only random seriatim statements.

And I absolutely love being able to address everyone directly. Only email or
paper copies allow this. There will never be a meeting at which everyone is
present and long enough to hear everyone speak. And it requires people to
respond to everyone -- not make private statements that express their own
view while ignoring the expressed interests of others.

And the same  people who complain about email also complain about meetings.

I now read the TOO MUCH EMAIL discussions as overload. People can't deal
with whatever is being posted anymore than they can deal with lots of
meetings. Its TOO MUCH.

Control and overload are the two main issues I think.

Sharon Villines
Takoma Village Cohousing, Washington DC

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