Gillian Bates takes a look at the lighter side of life and work as a freelancer in the arts.

E?d Out

Regular readers of this column will know that I sometimes struggle with new technology. So now, to help me through this, join me in a little guided fantasy. Get yourself in a comfortable position? relax?imagine? a day, a whole day, without emails. You are at your computer? What are you doing??. Come on, there must be something?.

Unbelievably, it is only a couple of years since everyone in the arts became connected through cyberspace. At first it was a fantastic novelty - can you remember? A bit like being a kid when the invisible ink on the paper trick actually worked. But things have got seriously out of hand. How many times have you opened that inbox to find row upon row of black little messages ? some with that awful red dot for High Priority (?ohmygod and I?ve been at a meeting for the past three hours?) Does your heart sink when, after being away a for day, you come back to see you have 34 unread messages and realise that your morning?s work is shot to pieces?

And don?t even mention the return after the summer holidays. It takes the following year to respond to that lot.

Were all these messages really necessary? It strikes me that the whole email system is fast becoming the last bastion of the jobsworth. Messages are being sent merely to prove how busy/ important/thorough the sender is. A friend of mine, who?s a senior officer at a local authority, recently deleted over 1,000 emails most of which had huge attachments. Hell-o? How many of those did he really need to see and how many were from people bigging themselves up because they had his ?e? address? So, let?s lead the way in the arts and start the email backlash. Hold hands?shut your eyes?.just imagine?.

Gillian Bates is a freelance arts marketing consultant e: