Posted by: Tom Owen | August 16, 2009

Send: Why People Email So Badly and How to Do It Better (2008) – Will Schwalbe, SPS 1980

Send: Why People Email So Badly and How to Do It Better

It goes without saying that email is one of the most important tools in 21st century communication. Unlike carrier pigeons, telegrams, or smoke signals, the person on the other end of the message receives your thoughts almost immediately. This instant gratification is usually helpful. But for people who type before they think, poorly-worded emails have reached the person before you realize you’ve screwed up. Will Schwalbe (with New York Times Op Ed editor David Shipley) wants to help.

Biographical Notes
As an undergraduate at Yale, Schwalbe became interested in Asian literature through a history course. After graduating, he worked as a noted travel journalist in Hong Kong while learning more about Southeast Asian literature. He put his experiences to good use as the senior vice president and editor-in-chief of William Morrow, where he published numerous Asian texts in translation – for example, the first Vietnamese fiction published in the U.S. Schalwbe later worked as senior vice-president and editor-in-chief of Hyperion Books.

Daniel Goleman, author of Social Intelligence: The New Science of Human Relationships, praises Send as a modern version of Strunk and White’s seminal Elements of Style. Goleman describes the difficulty of policing oneself when communicating electronically – since there is no immediate visual or auditory feedback, an offensive email is sent without due realization. Email from family and friends are often mixed up with formal messages. And with the immediacy of the Internet, once you press “Send,” there’s rarely a second chance. It takes experience and diligence to understand how your phrasing can affect a person you can’t see. The opening sentence is, “Bad things can happen on email.”

Send describes email etiquette in both personal and business situations – the first definitive guide to do so. The book is efficient and rife with anecdotes and real-life email exchanges to better illustrate points. Topics covered include the importance of the subject line, reply vs. reply all, informal vs. formal greetings, and when to bcc recipients. Chapter headings include “The Emotional Email” and “The Email That Can Land You In Jail.” The title, as well as an obvious reference to the “send” button, is an acronym – a handy email checklist. S.E.N.D. stands for Simple, Effective, Necessary, and Done.

Send was published first in 2007, and after great critical reception (including an appearance by Schwalbe on The Colbert Report), the book was revised in 2008.

Will Schwalbe is a guest on The Colbert Report on 6/20/2007 discussing email etiquette.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

more about “Send“, posted with vodpod

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