My love/hate relationship with email – a #rhizo ANT post

Last updated on December 28th, 2018 at 06:43 pm

ANT tells us that all ‘things’ are actors. This extends to soft things, like programs that run in the Cloud – and as such Google Docs is an actor. Actors are connected to other things to form a network. However, these connections are not neutral. Each connection affects the actors in different ways. There is a parallel here in how I think of social networks – networks of people – and how people affect each other. There are some that are very thin connections, where the influence is limited, and others where the connections are deeper – thicker – where there links provide more effects on the actors.

In our study, we are using the lens of actor-network theory to help us examine the different tools we use to successfully collaborate. We acknowledge that there are personality characteristics of the people involved that also influence our ability to successfully collaborate, however, that is not the focus of our study. The focus is on what technologies enable our collaborations. The techonologies that I want to address include: (1) Google Docs, (2) email … (more to come later) …

Since my colleagues have already talk about Google Docs (see below), I’m going to only peripherally mention it. Google Docs is the platform we use to write collaboratively. It allows us to have mutliple people working on the same document at the same time. It allows us to have conversations in the comments of the document. If there is more than one person on a computer (not a mobile device) they can do an instant ‘chat’ while working on the document. It is a great tool for collaborative writing, however, it has a strong dependancy on the Internet. Which means that each of us needs to be on the Internet. On this front, I am fortunate. I am usually working with shared documents on my computer with high speed Internet. I’m not familiar with Google Docs from a mobile device, so cannot speak to the limitations of access from that perspective.

I want to talk a little bit about email – and my love hate relationship with it at the moment. From a collaboration perspective, we use email to have private conversations. We say things in email that we do not necessarily want everyone to see. We also use email to coordinate / announce synchronous meetings. We use email to have discussions around sensitive topics – when we are trying not to offend anyone, but feel the need to say something. Email communication has a higher level of trust. What I mean by that is that we trust that when we use email that it is private. We use email to negotiate sharing in a more public space.

Now, to my love-hate relationship with email. When I did the last update on my laptop, my Outlook stopped working. I ended up using browser-based email. I started to use Google Inbox – which I love and hate. I now have some odd combination of gmail (sorting unread at the top) and Inbox, which sorts based on category. I haven’t really figured out a way to make email work for me – such that I keep losing things. I’m file inept (I’m sure I’ve blogged about that). Interestingly, I’m finding that Google Inbox doesn’t search as well as gmail does – which is interesting because it is Google after all – search is what they do!

A question for my collaborators, how do you see email? How is it different from the other ways in which we communicate?

Bali, M. (2015, May 11). Google docs collaborations: An amateur attempt to apply ANT analysis. [Weblog] Retrieved from:

Hamon (May 18, 2015a) ANT via Dudhwala: #rhizo15.[weblog] Retrieved from

Hamon (May 25, 2015b) How Does rhizoANT Work? [weblog] Retrieved from

Honeychurch, S. (May 23, 2015) Google Docs and ANT [weblog]

Keefer, J. M. (2015a, May 23). A Rhizomatic ANT In Germany [weblog]. Retrieved from:

Keefer, J. M. (2015b, May 25). Using Google via a German Actor-Network [weblog]. Retrieved from:

Koutropoulos, A. (2015, May 22, 2015). Swarn the Google Doc, or so says the ANT [weblog]. Retrieved from:

Singh, L. (2015, May 24). Actor-Network Theory and Google docs [Web log post]. Retrieved from:


3 responses

  1. […] we’re looking at collaborative tools for an upcoming presentation about rhizo14, Rebecca and AK  have both written about their feelings of their experiences with using email. In […]

  2. […] Rebecca Hogue – my love/hate relationship with email – a rhizoANT post […]

  3. Laura Gibbs Avatar

    So glad I noticed your post here, Rebecca. I am a great foe of email. Do you know Luis Suarez? He is GREAT, a big inspiration for me in reducing email to minimum. I got to have a back-and-forth with him at G+ a while ago. So much fun! Here it is:

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