I still remember when we rolled out email in my old school district. While it seems so long ago, it was a major upgrade to the 21st or 20th century. While many people used it to stay in contact with others, there were others who were very hesitant because of the conspiracy theory that the Director was reading everyone’s email.
One of the things that supported the conspiracy was how the messages all carried a time stamp. As a result, you could track your messages to see exactly when the recipient opened it. One of my lifesaving techniques was to click the little red flag denoting the message as unread and then opening it. No timestamp was created when it went this way. I remember being “called out” at a meeting once because I had opened this person’s email and not acting on it immediately. So, the little flag was a lifesaver! <grin>
These days, I think we take email and other forms of electronic communication for granted. It’s been especially important as a lifeline over the past year. We’re logging in more and doing more this way.
The current equivalent to the red flag is the tracking pixel. It’s a small graphic loaded when an email is opened that lets the sender know that you’ve opened the message. Supposedly, a way to circumvent this is to turn off graphics in your email program. I’m not sure it’s 100% effective but I turn off graphics as a matter of course. It is a good feeling when you get followup messages indication “we notice you’re not opening our emails …” so I guess it does work, at least to some extent. The UglyEmail extension lets a person see which messages sitting in your mailbox contain tracking pixels. It’s amazing how many are found.
Every now and again, there will be some acquaintance that sends me a strange message only later to realize that they had a weak password in place and had been “hacked”. Beyond sending out messages as someone else, it is possible that they could be digging into that mailbox and reading what’s there.
When we’re talking about our own personal mailbox, we’re pretty much on our own to manage how we handle things. I know that I’ve turned on two factor authentication whenever a service offers it. I still look forward to that elusive inbox-0. I’ve come to the conclusion that it can’t be done. And, even though I may clean out on this end, I have no way of controlling what happens on the other end.
There are some jobs where deleting email and digital tidyness isn’t an option. Everything that has been written is kept for policy reasons. I think that we all know about Dr. Fauci and his presence during the previous US President’s term of office. He came across to me as the voice of reason and sanity during bizarre times. Recently, I read from top to bottom this story and the attachments from the Washington Post.
It’s kind of a long post but definitely interesting and shows a great deal of what goes on behind the scenes that we would otherwise not known.
The analysis in the article and, certainly when you read it, drawn by yourself lets you see a profile of this individual. I know that many will write it off as being the cost of public office. In a world where the traditional face to face meeting isn’t happening, email has been the way to keep things going.
Beyond the actual content, I feel sorry for the doctor having so much information released in this matter. While parts of the emails are redacted, it still feels kind of creepy to read. As noted in the article, email time stamps help build a profile of the work involved. I know that I used to answer email in the middle of the night and that would get me comments like “don’t you ever sleep?”. The truth is that those emails sometimes made me drowsy and helped me go to sleep. My apologies to any colleagues who happen to be reading this.
Despite all this, there is a lesson for all to be taken away from this. First, there’s the actual content that might live on longer than you originally planned and secondly, the time/date, grammar, spelling, helps the reader paint a profile picture of yourself.
The bottom line is still the same before you click send/post/update/reply. Did you proofread it carefully? Is this really the message that you want sent and others read? Do you know where that message is going to end up? Do you really need to send that message?