The Cloudless Life

A Sturm Cartoon About a Snail Mail Communication

A bit of a switch from my usual post content today. Wanted to tell you about this incredible experiment — seems incredible to me, anyway, especially in this day and age of the cloud and mobile web access.  Cartoonist James Sturm from Slate magazine has sworn off the web for a whole summer, and I am absolutely entranced by the idea that anybody in today’s business world could get along without it — heck, not just people in business but also the general world population as we know it!

Seems back in April, Sturm, running a school for cartoonists, married with kids and living among the picturesque hills of Vermont in New England in the USA, felt a mid-life crisis coming on and figured his time on earth was dwindling down. His answer to an ever-increasing online life of emails and web immersion (which meant time away from his family) was to quit it for the summer. But he worried, “Will I be liberated or left behind?”

Fast forward. Just checked Sturm’s blog (yes, he’s blogging about not blogging). We’re heading into high summer now in the Northern Hemisphere (and Vermont is pretty far north), and Sturm”s experiment is nearing an end. But while his emails are gone, readers are nonetheless writing actual letters, via snail mail (U.S.P.S.).

Says Sturm: “At least a quarter of the letters express discomfort with the actual writing of the letter and jokingly bemoan the lack of a backspace key or spell check. But I actually like seeing what you crossed out and what new direction you decide to take.

“…My only request to my correspondents would be to stop apologizing for your handwriting,” he continues. “I enjoy how distinctive it is—so much better than another boring stream of 14-point Helvetica flooding my inbox. Snail mail may not be as quick as e-mail, but it’s more human (which is also why I’m always disappointed when a cartoonist chooses the ease of some bland comic font instead of lettering their work themselves).

If I wasn’t in the IT business, and my work didn’t depend on being online all the time, I might consider this a fun experiment. I’m glad it’s working for Sturm; seems like he’s more productive and more creative and is more calm in his work.

So why am I writing about this? Because in my own weird way, I see a metaphor between what Sturm”s doing and what Monitis does. I’m here to let the IT managers and administrators take time off from IT management. I monitor servers and networks and websites and cloud services platforms and so on so that my customers can sleep at night. Granted, they’re not taking a sabbatical for a leafy, placid summer, but a break’s a break, no?