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Death of an attachment

The original version of this post first appeared on my LinkedIn account here: Death of an attachment.

Over the last few years I’ve been increasingly aware that we are seeing the death of the attachment.

I have a life (as all of us do) outside of my work at Silversands, mine often involves writing and author interviews. And, when I get an email request for an interview I have previously sent a reply with a Word attachment containing instructions about what to do and a set of questions.

My process has worked well until recently; the document comes back and it’s a simple matter of copy, paste and edit to get them into my other blog. Simple.

But, then I had a glitch in the system. One of my authors couldn’t open the attachment. Shock, horror they used a Mac, without an Office plugin!

What to do? This was an author whose work I admired and was keen to help and I didn’t want my system to get in the way of a good story.

I had two choices, I could either reinvent the document I was sending, or I could use an online form instead. The online form won out.

As I was working out what to do I realised that this was bigger than just my little problem, a little detective work was required!

According to research by the Radicati Group, 205 BILLION emails were sent every single day in 2015. I reasoned, if just 1% of those emails had an attachment that meant over 2 BILLION files were winging their way around the world on a daily basis. And, it would be exacerbated by emails with multiple recipients.

Just imagine, if you send an email with an attachment to half a dozen people, two of whom forward it on to another half a dozen people each! All of a sudden we have 19 copies of the same document in 19 different email inboxes (the 18 recipients plus you, the sender), as well as the copy that was attached, that’s 20 versions of the same document from just one simple email!

It was a sobering realisation and I’ve now promised myself I’ll do things differently.

But what is the different way? It really depends on what you want to do. My author interview is just one example that could be solved with an online form rather than a document. But what if it’s not a form you want to send? What if it’s a letter or a report?

How about sending a link to it instead?

With Office 365, OneDrive and SharePoint give us all the opportunity to send a link to a document. Leaving everyone with a single version of the truth and reducing the size of our email inboxes enormously. Even if you aren’t an Office 365 convert, you could use any one of a number of different file sharing services – why not try it and see if it works for you!

Imagine how much the email world could change by the death of just one extra attachment!

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