Matheson's conversation with Bill Wilkerson, the president of the Canadian Business Round Table on Mental Health, presents one of the drawbacks of e-mail communication, information overload. Wilkerson claims that the constant availability of e-mail has created a "24-hour virtual work day" and adds that many of the messages workers receive are irrelevant to their immediate work. Over time, this may cause stress and even depression in the work place. Wilkerson points out that people send work-related e-mail during off hours, knowing that there will not be an immediate reply. He compares this to a situation in which everyone has a key to the worker's office. When the worker arrives the next morning, there are 40 or 50 people waiting to see him or her. Wilkerson concludes that managers ought to discourage "overnighting" e-mail.
It is debatable whether this is a realistic solution. A better solution might be to educate employees about e-mail etiquette and thus eliminate the unnecessary messages that clutter a worker's mailbox and distract him or her from the important ones.
Slatella discusses the impact of instant messaging in the workplace. While she does note benefits of this technology, such as the reduction in the phone bill that comes from using instant messaging instead of a traditional long distance phone call, she focuses mostly on the difficulties of using this technology, such as having to manage an increased number of interruptions to one's work flow that is not unlike having the telephone constantly ringing with people demanding your immediate attention. It is a young technology with the potential to be as intrusive as a telephone that has no answering machine or secretary to screen calls. Social mores for how to handle this politely are still in the process of developing.
Joke telling has been proliferating and evolving on the internet since the beginning. Harmon takes a look at the "customs, critics, and avant-garde" of internet joke telling. He talks with critics who say the proliferation of jokes on the internet is having a net negative effect on humor, by such things as the altering of jokes, and the dilution of impact from the sheer volume. On the other hand he notes that the internet has allowed jokes of limited appeal, such as those about obscure topics to find an audience that they might not have otherwise reached.
Kelly discusses some of the different types of hoaxes that proliferate on the internet. She offers some good, common sense suggestions to help one avoid being duped by a hoax such as be wary of messages that sound especially goofy or too good or too bad to be true, and to verify information with reputable sources before accepting it as true. Kelley also identifies some useful websites that identify and track internet hoaxes.
Kelley discusses some of the impact of being too connected electronically via such things as e-mail and cell phones. She discusses the value of disconnecting from the electronics temporarily, and reconnecting with analog life. Some benefits of this practice she notes are the opportunity to recharge oneself, and the opportunity to focus on a project, such as writing a book or a grant proposal.