Coming back from Wuxi and Shanghai to Beijing, I spent the day with sorting out things, and going running and swimming. My e-mailbox was filled up with hundreds of mails again and somehow I never think this has something to do with me and I deleted them in rapid fire. Strange so many still reach the inbox, even I have a very sharp spam-filter which kills most irrelevant machine generated messages and a "human junk filter" which automatically deletes mails having spelling mistakes or using vocabulary indicating low intelligence or bad manners.
While sorting my things, I found that I still have nearly all postcards collected over half a lifetime - even I was already writing many. So, it is a good moment to start sending out more. I also have amazing supplies of letter paper and envelopes of finest quality and interesting letter heads, from institutions you might never have heard of. A good start to make use of them too. And then there is still a folder with stamps, which I never bought for collecting, but always for use.
I liked e-mails when it all started and I am online since 1982. But recently, I really feel that this is just a conversation which is better done entirely by machines among each other and I do not really have to participate in this any more. I was even looking for a way to automate the answering of my e-mails by something more clever than an Autoresponder. Something like ELIZA for e-mails, where people actually think they talk to me, but it is just a machine. But I did not find anything viable - yet. There is research published on automatic e-mail answering, for example by Sneiders, E. (2010) in the Proceedings of IceTAL'10 of the 7th International Conference of Advances in Natural Language Processing. This is clever, but very hard to integrate in my technical e-mail environment, specially at work - where it is actually very hard even to keep the basics running.
Writing instead with a pen on paper, I really enjoy. There is a German saying which says that the tool is not just manipulated by the craftsman, but also shapes the craftsman and his abilities. This is how I feel about the difference writing on paper or on a computer. It makes me think different and write other things. Writing letters is like a dying way of communication. Many people even lost the ability to write by hand. Writing e-mails is just typing, not writing.
Since back in corporate I also made several attempts to use an electronic calendar. The way people use it, this is the most useless piece of kit. It is just like a receiver of a remote control and with all the gadgets to synchronize, so many mistakes happen, that I am back to paper on that too. Somehow my brain just can not process these moving flashes on computer screens as if they were related to me. I am sorry.