e-mail free friday

Apparently today is e-mail free Friday. I say “apparently” because I heard someone say that. I don’t know any of the details, but since when has that stopped me from opining?

The idea of e-mail free friday is a futile exercise in Prisoner’s Dilemma. The idea is nice. The problem with e-mail, as we all know, is that you can spend an entire morning plowing through your inbox only to see that in the meantime, everyone has responded to your messages, filling up your inbox yet again. Clever bastards. So you spend the afternoon plowing through their replies, and then it’s 5PM. And you’ve done absolutely no work. (Some of you may be saying “… and the problem is?” at this point, but you are naughty!) So the idea would be that we all avoid e-mail for an entire day and get Actual Work done. Sounds great, right?

Except, if no one else is checking e-mail, what’s the most obvious thing for you to do? See? The thought is already sneaking in to your head: . o O ( Well, I can just sneak in there for a minute and catch up on e-mail – and I won’t be bombarded with replies to what I send! I’ll Get Ahead!!! )

The marginal advantage to be obtained by betraying everyone else on E-mail Free Friday is too high. We’re doomed to all mutually defect back in to a normal e-mail usage pattern.

Game Theory: it’s what’s for breakfast.