Friday, January 13, 2012

The Case for Free E-mail Love and Free View

I am a doctor in the United Kingdom apparently.

Once, a long time ago, my hotmail account was included in a group e-mail sent by a bunch of medical staff in some hospital in the north of England.  It was an invitation for the group to head off on holiday together on the continent somewhere.  As I thought the real recipient would want to receive that e-mail as I knew I could appreciate the idea of going abroad with a group of mates, I wrote back and had to, sadly, decline that invitation and suggested they check their e-mail addresses and resend it to the appropriate person.

I am sure I got an acknowledgement to that e-mail saying that, sorry, it wasn't intended for me (they admitted it was harder to plan a weekend trip to Europe from New Zealand) and that, yes, they would remove my e-mail from the list.  Except that they didn't.

Over the subsequent months, I got a few more e-mails from the adventurous group, and sent fewer e-mails in response denying that I was the droid that they were looking for.  But my Jedi mind tricks did not work, and so on that list I stayed.

Since then, I have been invited to many trips around Western Europe.  I have been asked several times if I would like to lend my medical skills to working different shifts, filling in for some of my colleagues who are off doing other things.  I have been informed that, because I worked over the weekend, I am entitled to quite a bit of overtime, and have been sent documents outlining what I should be able to claim.  And, in the latest of topic threads, I am now a keen poker player and have been invited several times to come over and clean house.

It is an interesting thing to be permanently included in such an e-mail list.  For a start, they really do seem a pretty awesome group, even I don't ever recall ever having met any of its members. 

And, it is also interesting as it makes me think of how I send my own e-mails.  I have a few default contact groups of my own, which I use every so often, and as I don't expect to hear back from everyone, I just have to presume that the people receiving them are all intended recipients.  I also have to admit that my own group e-mails are nowhere near as interesting as these from the UK.  [As an aside, I have also taken to blind copying people in on group e-mails after an incident also a long time ago where one person who did not appreciate being included on a group e-mail responded with a "Reply All" e-mail that was not particularly... civil].

But I also feel a bit bad still being on that list.  Should I go back and try to tell them (perhaps all of them) that mine is not the address they should be including?  I have been on that list for years now, so how would they react to learn that I had been listening in? 

It's kind of like Facebook, where (should there be an accidental friend request and acceptance) I could see the threads of other people whom I don't really know and so keep a track of what they are up to - though using Facebook, of course, they would also be able to keep tabs on me.

Perhaps one day, in another life, I will meet someone on that list, and I will learn that it was actually me they were inviting all that time and that they were bitterly disappointed that I never came along to anything that they had organised - which is pretty unlikely.  Perhaps the group will turn to lives of international intrigue and crime and realise that they have one of those unwelcome listeners in that will need to be tracked down and brutalised in a spectacularly unpleasant way - I do hope that this is not the case. 

In the end though, I think I will just continue to delete the e-mails and not raise any flags.  It is easy to tell when e-mails are from the group from the subject lines, meaning that I don't really need to open the e-mail itself to make that determination.  And so my e-mail life will go on as it has always done, and I will just smile a small smile when I see another e-mail from that group in my inbox.

Verdict:  Technology means we are more connected and in contact with people than ever before, even if we don't always know them at all.  Or perhaps that is the point?  This blog could probably attest to that...  Many electrons out of the ether.

Oh, and I have to mention this (better late than never): RIP Stratos televisionFreeview has lost one of its brightest stars.  Hopefully Al Jazeera English and/or some of the other channels that now no longer have a New Zealand audience will decide to join Freeview so we will get a decent 24 hour news channel on free to air.  Considering TVNZ7 is doomed to end this year as well, from memory, we desperately need one.  And Freeview itself?  Well they seem happy to let everyone join SKY as they seem unable or unwilling to be proactive in attracting channels to the Freeview platform, which really sucks.

Verdict:  Sorry to see you go Stratos; and I poke out my tongue in your general, uninterested direction Freeview.  2 radio waves out of 10.

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