Paper Unpublished but Complete

The reworked paper was sent to the International Journal of Information Management and a reply was received in April 2013 with comments from two reviewers, one of which recommended acceptance and the other recommending a number of changes prior to acceptance. Unfortunately, Tom’s workload has precluded him working on the paper over the summer and, with the new academic year about to start, he has advised that he is unlikely to be able to spend any time on it for some time. Therefore, I have taken into account the reviewer’s comments as best I can, and have produced a final unpublished version which is available at this link [Comms Comparison Paper Final Unpublished v1.0 16Sep2013]. The paper does do what I had hoped it would, and, even though it is not published, I’m pleased with the result and shall include it in the list of my articles, papers and books. It was a good experience working with Tom and it demonstrated that such a collaboration is feasible and can work for someone in my position. With that, this particular journey is now complete.

Draft submitted to two journals

Tom and I completed the draft version of the ‘Research Note’ today and Tom has sent it to the first of the two Journals he identified previously ( the Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology, and the International Journal of Information Management) to see if they might want to publish it. We can only appear in one so we’re just hoping we get a positive response from one or the other.

Context and graphs produced

I’ve written two pages of background info to provide Tom with some context. They outline the jobs I was doing in 1981 and 2011 and the type of organisations I was working for; and also the main changes in communications I perceived between the two periods. The latter was an interesting list of the following:

1981 2011
The challenge was to manage paper The challenge was to manage email
Support staff assisted professionals No support staff – Professionals support themselves
You needed paper and a pen You needed a laptop, desktop and/or a handheld
Turnaround expectations were several days Turnaround expectations were a few hours
The phone was tied to the desk The phone was mobile and multipurpose providing a tighter coupling between voice and written communications.
Overland mail used for most things Many types of communications – magazines,  newsletters and marketing material – had moved into web sites or email
Presentation technologies used were either photographic slides or overhead acetates Slides and acetates had disappeared. Presentation technology was presentation software such as Powerpoint
Conference calls generally unknown. Work got done by face-to-face meetings or by shipping paper around and getting comments back on paper or by phone. Conference calls a major plank of business communications
To be connected to like-minded individuals, you had to join a group and either attend face-to-face meetings or receive materials through the overland mail. To be connected to like-minded individuals, you identified an appropriate group over the net and used web-based support systems.
Inter-continental communication took place by letter or one-to-one phone calls between distinct individuals and groups with their own agendas. Business had gone global and was conducted by interlinked teams working together across continents. Conference/video calls demanded that many participants had to join communications at unsocial hours. Email was the glue bonding the participants together.

I have also completed the basic numerical analysis and produced the following graphs:

  • % of communications received in each of 24 categories, 1981 vs 2011
  • % received on each individual day of the week, 1981 vs 2011
  • Absolute numbers of hardcopy items received by category, 1981 vs 2011
  • Average number of emails sent on each day of the week, 2011 only (no 1981 data)
  • % emails with attachments received by category, 2011 only
  • % replied to, 1981 vs 2011
  • % forwarded, 1981 vs 2011
  • Number of different senders by category, 2011 only (no 1981 data)
  • % work related, 1981 vs 2011

I’m working with Tom Jackson on this topic

A look through my filing index identified a paper on email in the journal Behaviour and Information Technology. I emailed the author at Amsterdam University asking if he was interested in collaborating or if he could suggest anyone who might be. He pointed me towards Tom Jackson at Loughborough University who I am now working with. Tom approached two possible journals to find out if they’d be interested in such material – the Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology, and the International Journal of Information Management. The latter responded that it sounds interesting and that we should submit a draft. We are now working on the material.

The shift to email – a comparative analysis of office mail in 1981 and 2011

In 1981 most of office mail was hardcopy – Local Area Networks and the Email systems that ran on them were very new technology, and inter-office email was in its infancy. I was working in the newly formed Office Systems team in the UK National Computing Centre, and I was interested in the impact that our implementation of a Zynar LAN would have. So I decided to survey the mail I was receiving with the intention of doing a follow up survey after email had been in use for some time. I duly collected four months worth of  data – but never did the follow up work. However, thirty years later I undertook the same survey – though this time, of course, the traffic was almost exclusively email with only a tiny amount of hardcopy. I now intend to do a comparative analysis of the two sets of data and write up the results in a paper; and I’m looking for someone to collaborate with in this work. If you’re interested do get in touch.