Local News

UNC professor tries to go email free

Posted July 11, 2011

— University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill professor Paul Jones is testing a theory that workers are more productive without email.

"Email is creaky and old," Jones said. 

Jones said sorting through spam and unimportant email bogs down the workday. 

"Email is the worst, the biggest time sink, the least efficient way to do almost anything," Jones said. 

The average worker receives about 75 emails a day and sends about 40, according to a 2010 study by a technology market research firm The Radicati Group in California.

Last month, Jones started an experiment by giving up email in favor of other methods of communication, such as social networking, cloud-based collaboration and face-to-face conversations.

Jones' colleague Barbara Wildemuth said she isn't giving up email. 

"Right now, everybody, except Paul, who I need to communicate with is on email," Wildemuth said. 

Jones said that may be the case now, but younger people are shaking off email and communicating faster and better in new ways.
He's ready to see email become an endangered species.

"I'm not running away from technology, I'm running toward appropriate technologies," Jones said. 

South Granville High computers UNC professor ditches email

 The recently unveiled Google Plus sharing service makes it even easier to avoid using email, Jones said. 

Jones is writing about his experiences on his blog.

44 Comments

This story is closed for comments. Comments on WRAL.com news stories are accepted and moderated between the hours of 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Oldest First
View all
  • wral50 Jul 20, 1:13 p.m.

    Just a quick note for all of you local folks. The comments of "balog" are not the comments of me, Tarus Balog. Just wanted to clarify any confusion, since a couple of people thought it was me.

  • kpeter29 Jul 14, 3:22 p.m.

    Quite honestly, from the perspective of a current college student myself - email has not been relevant since about 2006 (beginning of high school). In fact, it was not until enrolling in a university and receiving a student email account that that the majority of my generation even remembered how to "draft a new message" - I'd say roughly 75% of students fail to communicate with professors and faculty because NO ONE reads or checks their email. We may be surfing FaceBook 24/7 and receiving Twitter updates via text message but e-mail is becoming just as dated as cassette tapes and VCR's. Now entering my third year of college, many professors list alternative ways of communication beyond just school e-mail accounts don't cut it...even skype, similar to "e-mail" (but no, not really.) is more effective in communicating with others than simply blowing up some ones unused and irrelevant inbox. Who here remembers the movie "You've got mail" ? yeah...that's my point - it's 2011.

  • balog Jul 12, 1:31 p.m.

    And he sits there saying he is "testing a theory of how workers can be more productive without email" How would he know what a productive worker does, he hasn't since he has been at UNC. Secondly, how far removed from reality is he to think spam won't follow. Sure, ditch your email. You don't think spammers will hit your facebook mail? Jones is considered a technology mensch? Laughable at best.

  • balog Jul 12, 1:25 p.m.

    You all need to understand Paul has always been an anti-authoritarian. Always going against the grain. Email, once a way to go against the grain in communication now is the easiest way to communicate, so naturally, Paul needs to go against it. He is and always has been an island unto himself. His funding doesn't depend on email so why should he? UNC IT when it was a sun site was his first electronic litter box, and ibiblio has been and still is his litter box at the expense of tax payers and stock holders. His underpaid drones and student workers do all of the work while he sits back and preaches from his bully pupit of how wonderful and innovative he is.

  • TruthBKnown Banned Again02 Jul 12, 12:51 p.m.

    Email is just a tool in a long list of tools. And every tool has a specific purpose. If he doesn't want to use it, fine. But it's silly to try to make a case that it doesn't have a use. In an organization like a university or a company, it doesn't make sense to use Facebook. And however a message arrives, it's just that a message, be it an email, a text, or an email within Facebook. But if you're using that, you may as well just use Outlook. Because it's still just a message.

    The problem I have with it is this guy is picking something nonsensical, and trying to make himself look like some kind of pioneer or groundbreaker because he doesn't like to use a particular tool. And he's not. He's just a dude that doesn't like email.

  • tbert Jul 12, 11:37 a.m.

    I am amazed at how many of you are threatened by an opinion. What's wrong with looking into the future of electronic communication that the idea has to be bashed? Face the reality that today's youth makes few voice calls, few emails but an incredible number of Facebook and text messages. If you think he started a revolution you're wrong. It's evolution.

  • balog Jul 12, 11:05 a.m.

    Others at unc who fo real work are losing their jobs whike this clown collects fat paychecks.

  • TruthBKnown Banned Again02 Jul 12, 10:26 a.m.

    This professor seems pretty savvy in technological things... maybe he should spend some time educating his fellow professors on how they can easily check for PLAGIARISM! LOL

  • balog Jul 12, 10:23 a.m.

    He quit email because myegoisbigandilovemyself@unc.edu was too long.

  • davido Jul 12, 9:55 a.m.

    I think all the kids have him beat. They never check email anymore, just FB.

More...