Mon. Feb 28, 2005
E-mail has been on my mind a lot lately, for more than one reason (reason two is down below). I got an odd one this week. At least, I thought it was odd. Until I saw on Atrios’ site the kind of e-mail he gets: “You have one last #@%!ing chance to realize that you are making a mistake by being a #@%ing elitist douchebag … and start giving links to smaller blogs like me … and responding to your emails … or I am going to blog about this.”
Goodness. It got worse from there. And that was from a political “ally.”
Anyway, in the e-mail I got, a complete stranger wondered somewhat suspiciously why I’d felt compelled to weigh in on the Eason Jordan scandal, yet I haven’t written a word about the Jeff “Gannon” scandal. The implication being that I was being partisan in writing about one but not the other.
My reactions, in order:
 Anyone who has read this site for any length of time and has determined that I am Definitely a Democrat or Really a Republican and only speak from that partisan viewpoint has nearly terminal reading comprehension issues. You probably shouldn’t be operating heavy machinery.
 This is not an objective journalistic site, where I am legally, morally, or ethically required to provide time for all viewpoints, “cover” all events objectively, or even “cover” all events at all. That type of site … well, it doesn’t exist.
 Eason Jordan was the chief executive officer of perhaps the most influential news organization on this planet. Jeff “Gannon” was/is a joke. A small joke (despite the measurements in his profile), and a bad one, “working” for a slim excuse for a news organization most people had not heard of before they heard of Gannon. I wrote about Jordan well before he resigned, well before it hit the mainstream media, and by the time I caught up on the Gannon story, it was pretty much over. So, I found time for one, but not the other. One should not assume anything more than that.
Unlike Kottke, I’m not doing this full-time. This past three weeks have been among the busiest I’ve had in many a moon. And that’s a Good Thing, in most ways. But obviously, I have to set my priorities, and this site has suffered as a result. But even if I was doing this full-time, you shouldn’t expect any one individual to cover everything you want to hear about. That is, unless it’s you.
Because our digital world has evolved to tug at us in so many ways. Beside that lovely missive in my inbox are dozens and dozens of other e-mails, from people who really do expect me to respond. Because they’re paying me.
Basically, my e-mail is out of control. No, not spam, I’m continually startled to find I only get maybe three to five per day (I love TextDrive’s filtering). I’ve just had a lot going on, and my inbox reflects it. As a matter of simple survival, the Digital Man must filter his e-mail into priorities, or he will drown (or worse). Mine are:
1 – Wife
2 – Clients
3 – Potential Clients
4 – Real World Family and Friends
5 – Digital Friends and Acquaintances
6 – People I don’t know in any way
This is purely pain avoidance via prioritization. If I don’t respond to #1, well, she knows where I live. I’ll surely be hearing about my lack of digital graces. If I don’t respond to #2, they surprisingly stop sending checks. And I like checks, so #3 gets some quick e-love as well. And so on down the line.
The problem is, each and every day, I run out of time before I get through the list of priorities. I have a box full of starred e-mails that I don’t get to the day they come in, and I have truly good intentions of responding to them. Eventually.
But they mock me daily, as they slowly slip lower on the page, until after about two months, I unstar them in yet another tiny admission of defeat. And I worry that one of them was from the ER doctor who I will need when I finally stroke out while pounding out some political rant … “Oh, Mr. PhotoDude, so, I see from your chart you need someone to quickly unclog that major artery in your heart? Sure thing, I’ll be right back. Right after I respond to a couple of e-mails.”
I’m sorry. Really, I am.
It’s particularly vexing during weeks like these last few, when I can barely keep up with the torrent from multiple clients. And in the middle of it will come some very nice e-mail from someone I don’t know, simply asking me about [insert simple photography / web design / Textpattern / Southwest Travel question here]. I dutifully put a star on it, but it’s like on Star Trek, when that random crew member who’s never been on the show before beams down to the planet with Kirk and Spock. You just know, “you’re not gonna make it, kid.”
The other thing I’ve noticed over time is that perhaps half of these questions are somewhat predictable and fall into certain categories. So, in an effort to lessen my guilt over unanswered questions in e-mail, I’ve converted the “Contact” link in the right column so that it takes you to a page of Frequently Asked Questions. My e-mail address is right at the top, but below it, you’ll find some boilerplate answers to common queries.
And if there’s a question you think I’ve left out, you can, um, e-mail me.