Thoughts on technology, investing, marketing, and entrepreneurship.

Study reports that deleted spam is costing billions

Following up on my post concerning the faulty logic used for the Super Bowl productivity waste comes a study from the Center for Excellence in Service at the University of Marylandâ??s Robert H. Smith School of Business and Rockbridge Associates, Inc. calculating the costs of . Now donâ??t take my next comments the wrong way. I feel spam is an enormous problem and a productivity drain. What I do have a problem with is the methodology with which this study was performed.

Spamâ??s price tag now reaches $21.58 billion annually in lost productivity according to the results of the 2004 National Technology Readiness Survey (NTRS). Findings from the 2004 NTRS, an annual survey that tracks U.S. consumersâ?? technology opinions and behaviors, indicate that online users in the United States spend an average of three minutes deleting spam each day they check e-mail. Aggregating their usage across the 169.4 million online adults in the United States, this equals 22.9 million hours a week, or $21.58 billion annually when based on the average working wage.

The authors reached a dollar figure by multiplying their 3 minute per day average by the 169.4 million online adults in the U.S. which equates to 22.9 million hours per week. Where do I start with the absurdity? First, “online adults” does not equal “working adults with internet access”. Second, how many of these people are deleting spam that comes to a work email address versus a home / personal email address? To leave this out invalidates the entire study. If an unemployed person spends 3 minutes or 3 hours deleting spam, the action in no way impacts any productivity to any business. Likewise, the casual user checking their AOL email account and spending 3 minutes deleting spam in the evening again does not impact productivity. The key metric here is where the user is checking their email account and to a lesser extent what type of account it is (personal or work).

I recognize and agree that spam is an issue. Really, who doesn’t? Iâ??d prefer to see a well thought approach to measuring its impact though, instead of this nonsense. This just goes to show that statistics can be manipulated to tell any story you want.

While Iâ??m on the subject of spam, letâ??s talk about whatâ??s more annoying and a bigger waste of time in my opinion â?? postal mail spam. I get tremendous amounts of junk mail every single day at home and the office. Once you get your name on someoneâ??s list, itâ??s there for eternity. It takes me about a second to delete email spam. It takes me 20 to 30 times that long to get rid of junk mail. This is mainly because it’s hard to tell the difference anymore between legitimate mail and the junk (especially the mortgage refinance mailings). Unfortunately, I have to actually open the majority of junk mail to make sure there isnâ??t something important Iâ??m throwing away. Now that is a real waste of time.


Deleting Spam Costs Billions, Study Finds – Washington Post
ContractsProf Blog
Russ Abbott
Breaking Windows 2.0

Super Bowl productivity losses?

Earlier this week, outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas announced that the Super Bowl would waste productivity to the tune of over $1 billion. When I saw this news item, I immediately wondered how could this be possibly measured. Especially due to the fact that Sunday evening is not typically a work day for the majority of folks. From reading more into their study and other commentary, I’m still extremely skeptical. The best analysis I can give this study is one word: silly. I suspect they were only trying to get some headlines with the press surrounding the Super Bowl.

The fundamental aspect of their research is that the discussions at work, web surfing, arguments, etc. both prior to and after the game, contribute to a massive loss in productivity. I would counter their arguments with this one of my own – people will waste time regardless of the event or topic of the week (or day or hour). Employees naturally need to to communicate and generally participate in discussions and activities that do not appear to be directly productive to the enterprise. But as anyone who has ever worked a day in the corporate world, an 8 hour day is not 8 solid hours of non-stop work. People will take breaks, chat, and generally waste time just to get through the day.  That said, it doesn’t matter what the event is as they will find something to talk about or read up on the web. What’s next? Will Challenger, Gray & Christmas perform a study on the effects of the recent tsunami disaster to worker productivity? Give me a break.

Additional links on the topic:

Booker Rising

Ben Maller


Planning for Microsoft IIS 7

is planning to release Internet Information Server (IIS) 7.0 in 2006. VSLive has a first look at Microsoft’s next generation web server. The new version of IIS appears to be more modular, allowing specific components to be turned on or off as needed. Building on the component theme, Microsoft is also building APIs to allow for third-party development. Finally, IIS will now be fully integrated with and the entire .NET framework.

More details at Jon(e)sie.Net Blog and Fritz Onion’s blog.

Replace Google public service ads with Amazon affiliate products

I’m sure many of you have had this problem. Some of the pages on your site have not been indexed by Google yet and the ads are displaying the public service ads. Now not to be miserly or anything, but the whole point of placing ads on the site was to generate revenue. And the last time I checked, free public service ads are driving revenues to neither Google nor my site. Since Google can be notoriously slow to index pages sometimes, especially new sites, I began researching solutions for my other blog, All Climbing. What I found was a free Perl script called AGAR, Amazon/Google Ad Replacement.

AGAR allows you to replace the Google public service ads with Amazon product links using the . The script is simple to modify. You then just upload it to your cgi-bin directory and then tell Google AdSense to replace the public service ads with the URL to the AGAR script. AGAR looks similar to the Google AdSense ads and can also use the same color scheme.

Management by baseball

Skimming through Tom Peters‘ blog roll, I saw a link for a blog entitled "Management by Baseball" and I couldn’t resist visiting.  Quoting the site’s description of itself:

What do Hall of Fame baseball managers like Connie Mack & John McGraw have in common with today’s business leaders? Why are baseball managers like Joe Torre & Dusty Baker better role models for management than corporate heroes like Jack Welch, Ken Lay & Bill Gates? And just what does Peter Drucker have to do with Oriole ex-manager Earl Weaver? Management consultant & ex-baseball reporter Jeff Angus shows you almost everything you need to know about management you can learn from baseball.

That pretty much says it all. An interesting approach to discussing management topics and issues, my first thought was the book Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game by Michael Lewis.

America’s pastime being used to teach management. I guess it had to happen at some point.