I have a not-so-secret secret – I never answer the phone. With landlines, it is 100% of the time, because I can’t see who is calling me.  Despite the fact my work landline has a messages facility, I don’t listen to those either. Not in 8 years since I moved to Edinburgh. I must have 100+ voice messages on there – I will never listen to them. I won’t.

Guess what? Nothing bad happened. No-one died. Projects finished. I’m doing pretty well and the University is still standing. So, maybe, just maybe, we don’t need voice calls anymore?

My mobile is slightly different – I answer calls from four “people”: my wife, my parents, my brother and my friends. I do check the messages though. If it’s an unknown number, i just ignore it – if it’s important, I’ll pick up the message and call back later.

Voice is dead. It’s so dead. Dead as a dodo, deader than a dodo because it’s possible George Church might bring dodos back. Why? I learned that 99.9% of the calls I get are calls I don’t want. Cold calls, or calls about stuff I don’t want to know about or hear about, or calls to remind me to do something I have already decided I don’t want to do, or have already scheduled. I don’t need calls. I could 100% turn off incoming calls for the rest of my life and I would be soooo happy.

Without doubt the biggest culprits are cold call companies trying to sell me stuff. The vast majority of calls are these type of calls and they have killed voice. It’s dead. Stone dead, we do not need it anymore. I do not need incoming calls. I no longer require this feature, please turn it off.

The question is, will email go the same way?

What with journal and conference spam, benign spam from my University, and the endless growth of cc- and bcc-, I’d say the percentage of emails I have zero interest in reading is above 90%, possibly even 95%. It is approaching the level at which voice died.  Spam filters don’t help, especially with benign spam (yesterday’s was an email-to-all about a dying relative’s fundraiser, today’s (it’s only 08:30am) was about a bumper new crop of vegetables).

Spam within an organisation, deliberate, stupid, ridiculous spam driven by cc- and bcc- cancer and reply-all mailing lists is possibly the most harmful self-mutilation large organisations can do, as they watch productivity grind to a halt and then wonder “why?” possibly sending out a few all-staff surveys to find out.

Here is what I would love, please tell me if this exists – I want e-mail to be like ssh and have public private keys. Like, you only get to contact me if you have my public key, and it matches the current private key in my inbox. You want to contact me? You have to figure out how to get my public key. Hint: you won’t be able to get it by calling me.