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Anxious gatekeeping

Analogous to nervous cluelessness is something we might call “anxious gatekeeping.”   This is desire to police the borders of poetry, or of...

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Meetings & Email

Suppose there's a meeting of 15 people (departmental faculty, for example) earning an average of $35 an hour plus benefits. That's a $750 dollar meeting. By skipping this meeting and putting this time to more productive use I'm actually saving my university a lot of money!

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I kind of wish my employer would not bombard me with emails all day long. They are different sorts of email, from different units on campus; some are vacuous feel-good messages from the Chancellor or Provost; some are actually useful invitations; some are necessary requests to fill in some legal form. I get the calendar of events every week--something available on the university web page. The department secretary will forward a message to the entire department. Maybe one in ten of these messages is something I really need to see. The economic cost of everyone in the university sorting through all these mass emails every day is not insignificant. Sure, it's 10 seconds here and ten seconds here, but it adds up to a chunk of change at the end of the day. So why am I wasting time writing this post? By clarifying these issues to myself I can come up with solutions, like turning off my email when I want to get something done.

Also, the larger picture is that the employer should not make the employee feel he's working by just opening up emails and deciding whether they are relevant or not. That is work that is not at all productive for teaching, research, or service. When I am doing this, I am doing a work-related activity, I am in my office, and engaged in official business, but I am not actually getting anything done. The email actually makes me feel Iike I'm doing something, even when I'm not. They might as well put an obstacle course between the parking lot and the office: that at least would increase employee agility and physical fitness.

In publishing SMT, I feel I am engaged in a sort of scholarship of benefit to other scholars and writers, even if in a very modest way. Even 100 visitors in a day is an audience larger than that of any scholarly publication I have ever written.

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